Klobuchar, Smith Secure Significant Federal Funding to Strengthen Affordable Childcare Access, Support Workforce in Fosston

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that they have secured $418,000 in federal funding to strengthen access to affordable childcare and support the workforce in Fosston. This funding will be used to remodel the future Prairie Pines Childcare Center.

“For far too many parents in Fosston and across our state, the struggle to find high-quality childcare is a barrier to joining the workforce,” said Klobuchar. “By increasing access to affordable childcare in Fosston, this funding will address this urgent issue. I’m proud to have worked with local leaders to secure these resources and support Fosston families.” 

“I’ve heard from Minnesotans in Fosston and across the state about childcare—I’ve heard from families who have to drive 50 miles to take their kids to childcare, and those who are paying almost one-third of their income toward the cost of childcare for just one kid,” said Smith. “This new facility will help provide high-quality childcare for parents in Fosston and help get those who have been sidelined caring for a child during the pandemic back in the workforce. I am proud of our work to secure this funding, which will have a direct impact on the lives of Minnesotans.”

“As economic development director in Fosston, I have seen the importance of expanding childcare access and capacity,” said Michelle Landsverk, Economic Development Director of the Fosston Economic Development Authority. “People who do not have childcare can’t fully engage with the workforce. Employers who can’t fill open positions can’t thrive. Maybe most important of all, opening Prairie Pines Childcare Center means that we will be able to provide excellent care to young children and give them a strong foundation for success in school and in life. We’ve been working hard to increase childcare capacity in Fosston for the last few years. The award to Prairie Pines Childcare Center will allow us to open without debt and insure long-term sustainability of the center. We are beyond thankful to Senator Smith and Senator Klobuchar for championing our project.”

Klobuchar has long been a leader in the fight to secure affordable childcare and help parents re-enter the workforce should they desire to. Klobuchar leads the bipartisan Childcare Workforce and Facilities Act with Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), which would provide grants to support the education, training, and retention of the childcare workforce, as well as the building, renovating, and expanding childcare facilities in areas with childcare shortages, including rural areas. Last March, Klobuchar led the bicameral Marshall Plan for Moms Resolution to support mothers as they reenter the workforce. In June 2020, Klobuchar, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Representative Pete Stauber (R-MN) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to prevent families from losing funds for childcare services that go unused because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since coming to the Senate, Smith has led efforts to make childcare more affordable and accessible. During the pandemic, Senator Smith led the successful push for $50 billion in funding to shore up the nation’s childcare system during the pandemic and help providers and families deal with childcare needs. She has also introduced a number of bills to improve access to childcare including the Child Care Supply Improvement Act, which would provide assistance for childcare facilities, support childcare providers, and support childcare businesses.

Klobuchar and Smith have been actively involved in securing this federal funding for projects benefiting communities in Minnesota through a process called “Congressionally Directed Spending” (CDS). During the CDS process, Klobuchar and Smith have considered project proposals and advocated for funding in close coordination with leaders from across Minnesota.

Projects are expected to receive funding over the next several months.