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Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Cook County EDA and Public Health and a “Year of Support for Local Childcare Providers”

Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) and the Economic Development Authority (EDA) of Cook County are joined together in a series of efforts intended to strengthen and expand local childcare systems for the county.

Alison McIntyre, Director of PHHS, said, “The PHHS department is proud to be a part­ner in the ongoing collaborative efforts and infusion of new resources to support existing providers and expand access to care.”

The two agencies received a $180,000 grant from Minnesota’s Department of Employ­ment and Economic Development (DEED) to fund initiatives to support new and existing childcare providers.

Specifically, the grant includes funding for five initiatives.

  • A recruitment campaign for childcare workers that includes hiring bonuses
  • Cover the time and cost of childcare pro­viders to receive continuing education toward a Child Development Associate credential
  • Create a subsidized slot program for new or expanding childcare businesses to off­set costs until the business reaches its ca­pacity
  • Monthly child care providers mentorship meetings that provide participation sti­pends
  • Create a shared substitute provider pool for local, licensed providers to reduce closures due to staff absences

According to Nancie Deming, the newly appointed Childcare Coordinator/Licensor for Cook County, now is a great time to enter the childcare field here. “We still need more providers,” she added.

Deming has more than 15 years’ experience in early childhood care and education. She lives in Two Harbors, but commutes to Cook County four days a week. “I believe in high-quality early childhood care and support for families,” she said. “I love this work, so the commute is worth it,” she added.

Hunter MacLaurin of Cook County has been working for almost a year to get her childcare business, focused on infant and tod­dler care, off the ground. As we reported last August, she was hoping to be open in time for the start of the school year. Licensing issues regarding her home-based business held her back and she has not been able to open.

She is working on licensing a site at the First Congregational Church in Grand Mara­is and hopes to be operational soon. She’s increased the planned scope of her business from six kids in care to as high as 10.

Deming says that a new daycare operator should plan on at least a four-month process to receive licensing for an operation. There are multiple steps to go through. Fortunately, guiding people through the process is a prime function of Deming’s position.

Deming has the necessary forms and exper­tise to guide would-be providers in filing their application quickly and efficiently. After ap­plying, a fingerprint background check of the applicant and any member of their household over the age of 13, if the planned care will be home-based, is conducted. The applicant will be expected to have a written statement from a physician attesting to their fitness. The planned facility will likely need a fire marshal inspection. It should be a comfort to new applicants that a single source of support through the sometimes frustrating process is the county’s Childcare Coordinator/Licensor.

“Right now there are just two places for in­fant daycare in Cook County,” Deming said. One of those is in Grand Portage. Deming ex­pects the local YMCA will reinstitute its in­fant care center in April and that it will have eight slots for infants.

The PHHS formed a subcommittee of its Advisory Council it calls “Childcare Solu­tions” that meets monthly to keep the public informed of its progress and challenges. The subcommittee meets the second Wednesday of the month from 2:30 to 4:00 pm and the meetings are open to the public. Notes from the meetings are posted on the county’s on­line meeting portal at https://www.co.cook.mn.us.

For questions about beginning a childcare practice or becoming a provider you may reach out to Nancie Deming by email at nan­cie.deming@co.cook.mn.us  or phone at 218- 387-5392.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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