St. John’s Circle of Care to expand GrandKids program
It’s a dilemma many Minnesota parents face — trying to find affordable child care.
There is a growing gap between the number of children that need child care and the number of spaces available at both child care centers and in-home providers.
The problem of child care accessibility is growing in Greater Minnesota to the point where both providers and families say it’s becoming a crisis. It’s a crisis that has been quietly brewing throughout Minnesota and the nation for many years now. People have been getting out of the in-home family child care business at a disturbing rate, creating a severe shortage over most of the state. And while statewide data makes it appear that growth in child care centers is picking up the slack, that is not the case in much of Greater Minnesota.
The problem is especially prevalent in rural Minnesota, where the number of providers has dropped significantly in the past few years.
The mass exodus of in-home family child care providers from the business is alarming, but the reasons are understandable: providers can’t make a living at it. Salaries and wages in child care are a huge deterrent for would-be providers, especially when they have student loans to pay off and the job offers few to no benefits.
Infants are by far the most difficult age group to find care for. The supply of infant care spots is now squeezed to a point where it is not unusual for families expecting babies to contact dozens of providers only to come up empty or be put on waiting lists of several months to a couple years. This has serious implications for women who would like to go back to work after the birth of their child.
The reality is that the shortage is creating a ripple effect with very real impact, not just on families but on employers and entire communities, and the impact is being felt across the state.
Most of Minnesota is facing an unprecedented shortage in skilled labor. Employers are working hard to find talent, but recruits are turning down jobs in places where quality child care is unavailable or unaffordable.
So, it is good news that in Springfield St. John’s Circle of Care is expanding its GrandKids program.
“We are excited to help the community,” said St. John’s Circle of Care Administrator Tom Goeritz. Now the challenge is to develop a staff. “If we can find the staff, I know we can find the kids,” he said.
St. John’s Circle of Care has an established child care program and space for an expanded program. “The closing of Vista Ridge assisted living apartments in January gives us an opportunity to use the space,” said Lindsey Beyer, St. John’s Circle of Care Community Relations/Foundation Director.
Beyer surveyed parents of children attending Springfield Public and St. Raphael Catholic Schools, and has had 130 respondents from which 110 said there is a need for more child care in Springfield.
St. John’s offers two different child care programs — GrandKids and VIK. The Grandkids program offers care to children six weeks old thru pre-school age. The V.I.K. (Very Important Kids) program provides care for school age children ages 5-12.
Child care licensure is mandated in law and ensures that licensed programs provide healthy and safe settings that meet quality standards as established by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS — Rule 3).
Currently the St. John Circle of Care GrandKids program has 48 children ages 4 months to 10 years enrolled.
St. John’s Circle of Care is currently licensed to care for four infants, ages 6 weeks to 16-18 months with Leeza Moe in charge; and with the expansion St. John’s request to the DHS is to increase licensure to eight, according to Amy Arredondo, director and lead preschool teacher.
The toddler program for children 16 months to 33 months is currently licensed for seven children with Shandel Sell in charge; and with the expansion St. John’s is asking the state to increase licensure to 14.
Arredondo is in charge of the preschool program for children 3-4 years of age and licensed for 10; and with expansion St. John’s is requesting licensure for 20.
Kelsey Helget is in charge of the preschool for children ages 4 and 5. The program for children 4 and 5 years old will remain at 10.
See complete story in this week's issue of the Springfield Advance-Press.