Wow! I was impressed with the turnout at the childcare provider meeting Tuesday night.

Wow! I was impressed with the turnout at the childcare provider meeting Tuesday night (see story on page 1). Nearly 80% of Sleepy Eye’s licensed childcare providers came to the meeting to share their knowledge and ideas with city officials. It was so refreshing to see the people who know the answers come to offer those answers, rather than complain later about decisions made. Thank you to those who attended and joined in the discussion.

I am impressed for another reason. And this reason falls into that “complain later” category. It is also a reason that might not even be based on truth.

It seems to me that a few years ago (before the Tri-Valley center opened) the city sought information from local childcare providers about whether there was a shortage of childcare in Sleepy Eye. It maybe was a survey—or maybe a meeting? I don’t remember (that’s why I prefaced this with the might not even be true disclaimer). At any rate, it seems to me there was a very low participation rate from the childcare providers.

Not receiving the requested information may have had the effect of leading the EDA in a less than optimal direction. They acted in good faith on the information they gathered. Their encouragement to Tri-Valley to start that center led to where we are today. A childcare center established with an EDA loan (which, by the way, is the same kind of loan other businesses can get through the EDA.)

That childcare center did get some attention at the meeting, including some negative comments. It was pointed out that the purpose of the meeting was to learn how the childcare needs of Sleepy Eye’s families can best be met, and if the city should play a role. It was not a ‘home-based vs. center-based’ discussion.

Perhaps a shortage of childcare options is more of an economic issue. If it is a profitable business model, people would be encouraged to establish such a business. If the consumers (parents) do not want to pay the price, or cannot afford the price, what is the answer?

Should the employers who need their employees to have reliable and excellent care for their children be involved in the answer? Be involved financially?

Stay tuned. That’s the next question.