ALBERT LEA, Minn. - It's an issue plaguing many local communities: A lack of childcare options.
"There are a lot of children who aren't being cared for in licensed centers. They may be hanging out with grandma and grandpa during the day or at a neighbors house, which is okay," said Noelle Hagen, the Assistant Executive Director of the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency.
"But we also know that there are good results when kids are in a center or an in-home provider that's focusing on early education. And so we want those opportunites for all of our kids," Hagen said.
"Currently we do have a waiting list for all of our classrooms. And we do take care of children 6 weeks through 4th grade," said Brenda Reed, Co-Executive Director of The Children's Center.
"We do have a hard time getting enough staff to be able to cover the rooms to keep them full too. I just don't think there are a lot of people going into this field. The pay is low and sometimes it's kind of a thankless job," said Reed.
That is why the City of Albert Lea and the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency hosted a Childcare Provider Appreciation Event on Tuesday evening.
"There is a child care shortage in Greater Minnesota and even in the metro. And in order for our businesses to have employees, we need to have somewhere for our children to be safely cared for during the day. So child care isn't just important to parents, but it's also important to economic development. And so we want to say hey, thank you for doing what you do, please keep doing it," Hagen said.