By WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan have announced $53.3 million in additional funding to support child care providers and families’ access to child care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, child care providers have stepped up to ensure that families across the state have a safe and reliable place to send their children,” Walz said. “Child care staff are heroes and we will continue to work hard to respond to their needs as they support Minnesota families.”

State officials call the additional investment critical.

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“Now more than ever, our littlest Minnesotans need stability and nurturing, and that’s exactly what our child care providers give every single day,” Flanagan said. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become even more clear that child care businesses and workers are the backbone of our economy – they’re the workforce behind our workforce.”

The additional funding is made possible by federal funding through the CARES Act, passed by Congress in March. But Walz says more will be needed.

“Our historic investments have ensured continued access as other states have seen more widespread closures, yet we know more will continue to be needed and hope Congress will act with more relief,” Walz said.

In total, about $188 million has been used to support child care in Minnesota. The funding supports open licenses family child care providers, child care centers, and certain eligible certified centers that are open and serving children, according to state officials.

The application period for funding opened for providers on Oct. 4 and will close on Oct. 14.

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