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Rural Minnesota facing child-care deserts as pandemic makes bad situation worse

The Story

Finding a new child-care provider has become a frustrating routine for middle school teacher Megan Dolan, whose 2-year-old son is on his third day care in less than a year. After their provider closed in May, Dolan and her husband found another in-home day care about a mile away from their house outside of Becker, Minn. Then that provider told the Dolans in December she was soon closing. Finding William’s next child care was an exhaustive feat that required three weeks, a spreadsheet and calls to every licensed provider in both Becker and Clear Lake. It was made even more complicated by the couple’s plans for baby No. 2. Dolan’s experience is increasingly common, especially in rural parts of the state, which threatens any post-pandemic economic recovery and the long-term stability of the communities that are in greatest need of child care.