OTC aims to support growth of child care capacity

Amy Baldwin

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

Amy Baldwin, in her role as community development director for Otter Tail County, leads an effort to help day care providers throughout the county.

“Otter Tail County recognizes that access to quality and affordable child care is needed for people to live and work in our region,” Baldwin told county commissioners on Tuesday morning, Feb. 14.

“In addition to keeping children safe and providing quality early childhood experiences, child care is a workforce need to support economic development. In 2022, Otter Tail County developed an action-oriented child care strategy.”

The goals, said Baldwin, are to promote available resources, support the growth of child care capacity and create partnerships to improve access and availability.

A challenge, noted Baldwin, is to maintain the day care providers already in place. 

“Some day care centers close when children of the providers enter schools, and their own children are no longer pre-schoolers,” Baldwin told county board members.

Baldwin told commissioners about a $160,000 Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development grant to be used in 2023. Those funds will be used to provide child care startups and expansion along with providing technical assistance and mentorship support.

She also pointed out grants from Fergus Falls-based West Central Initiatives to help activate additional capacity at day care centers in the county. 

The purpose of Otter Tail County’s Community Development Agency, headed by Baldwin, is to strengthen the communities throughout the county by expanding housing opportunities, promoting business development and fostering the coordination of public and private resources. 

The work of the CDA is intended to be complementary and supportive to existing efforts throughout the county. The CDA is a local government agency that is governed by a 9-member board of commissioners.