On Tuesday night, Watonwan County in-home daycare providers met with Sue Harris to discuss the problems they are facing with being in-home daycare centers, as opposed to being at the Armstrong School.

The shortage of daycare providers also affects those with their own small businesses.

"We need more in-home providers like you, and we want to support the work you do and up the game for you guys also," said Harris.

A lack of funding from the county or state level also has a large impact. Local businesses, including Thrivent Financial, are pledging to help the providers. The in-home facilities get no funding from Human Services. 

Also willing to help is the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and Children's First Finance, which is currently accepting bids up to $10,000 for child care centers and $2,000 for family child care start-up programs.

Another problem for in-home daycares is the lack of staff. A possible idea to help the local care is to start a Child Development Associate (CDA) course at the Butterfield-Odin, St. James, and Madelia high schools. This would also help inspire people to become involved in child care, as there is a massive shortage of providers. 

The high schoolers would assist in the home, while also earning credits that can be used for Rasmussen College or MSU-Mankato.

Harris also brought in to play the idea of having a child care provider appreciation event for those in the St. James area. In-home providers in Madelia already met to have their appreciation day prior to training days.

Training and licensing also have its problems. Those who work in the public daycare setting cannot work in the private/in-home daycares unless they go through the process of background checks, fingerprinting, and training again due to local and state systems.

"The role that you play is so important to these kids," said Harris. "You and your work should be celebrated."

Harris and the in-home providers plan to have their appreciation day in mid-January at the St. James Legion.