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This report features seven accessible case studies that highlight different community approaches to increasing child care access. The case studies are built on information gained from interviews with those involved in the efforts. Each case has “key words” that allow readers to quickly understand its context and model. The cases highlight the shortages that led to community efforts, what assets were available, and why communities chose the solutions they did. The options available to each community look different because of their unique assets, but the report synthesizes valuable insights that may be useful for others looking for solutions. Some of the key takeaways from the cases are summarized below:

● There are a variety of ways for communities to support or attract child care providers. Assistance can come from community members, local government, businesses, and community organizations, and there are a variety of ways interested parties can get involved besides direct financial support.

● Non-traditional child care models, like cooperative family providers and employer-supported child care offer advantages over typical family and center-based models.

● While the community solutions discussed were successful at expanding access to child care for local families, they didn’t eliminate the existing shortages. This suggests community-level efforts may not be able to fully ease pressure on families and providers, and changes need to be made at the state level instead.

Publication Date



Center for Small Towns


Morris, MN


Rural Sociology

Primo Type


Responding to the Child Care Shortage: Case Studies of Innovation in Greater Minnesota