Researching Child Care Solutions

April 2023 Updates on childcare resources

A core group of community members and organizations have started the process within the Rural Child Care Innovation Program through First Children’s Finance.  The goal of our work is to expand the infant and toddler slots within the area covering the Ortonville School District as well as find community goals to support the existing childcare programs that are in operation.

Our first step was to hear from YOU!  …to complete one of the surveys which provided the foundational data that was needed to start forming solutions.

The Surveys were completed!
Child Care Center Survey 
Family Child Care Provider Survey
Employer Survey
Parent Survey

Town Hall meetingNow Completed!
Was held on June 14, 2022, at OMG Hall, 25 2nd Street NW (2nd Floor), Ortonville
To hear the results of the surveys and to take part in the discussion and solutions.
Who was encouraged to attend?  child care providers, parents, employers, grandparents & general public!

A Provider Appreciation Event Now Completed!
This event was to highlight and thank our providers in the Ortonville area.  And for the Providers to share their insights and feedback on ways the community can support the existing providers and address the childcare needs in the area.

The Plan was created! –  (LINK) The Community Solution Action Plan for Child Care for the City of Ortonville, Minnesota

A brief description of the SMART Goals that were set in the Plan & Committee members that are working on these goals are listed below:

SMART Goal 1:  Research and implement a school-based early childhood career pathway program to be fully implemented by the 2023-2024 school year.  Team:  Carrie Bendix, Kari Dorry, Kathryn Melton

SMART Goal 2:   In the next six months identify 1 – 3 potential facilities that could be utilized for both center and family childcare options to create more childcare slots in the community.
Team:  Brenda Zahrbock, Laura Laub, Dr. Allan, Edie Barrett, Kathryn Melton

SMART Goal 3:  In the next three months identify and connect with six potential partners to create a local pool of dollars to help the startup of childcare programs.
Team:  Brenda Zahrbock, Laura Laub, Dr. Allan, Eddie Barrett, Kathryn Melton

SMART Goal 4:  In the next year offer two in-person training for providers in Big Stone County that count towards their relicensing.  Team:  Lisa Graphenteen, Amy Weir, Jeff Klagas, Samantha Thompson, Vicki Oakes

SMART Goal 5:  Within the next year create a recognition event to show appreciation for the work providers do in the community.  Team:  Lisa Graphenteen, Amy Weir, Jeff Klagas, Nancie Haukos, Vicki Oakes

If you would like to assist in this process or have questions, please contact Vicki Oakes at the Ortonville Economic Development Authority at 320-839-6155 or

For an article on this process and photos from the Townhall meeting, check out MNbump’s Blog Post:  

Resources available in Big Stone County LINK:  

Make sure to watch for more information postings as we move through this process!

About the Rural Child Care Innovation Program:

Child care is an economic driver for rural communities across the United States but many communities are facing shortages of high-quality child care. Funded by the MN Department of Human Services and Michigan Department of Education, First Children’s Finance’s Rural Child Care Innovation Program (RCCIP) is an innovative community engagement process designed to increase the supply of high-quality affordable child care in rural communities. The purpose of RCCIP is to guide communities in identifying the scope and size of their childcare challenges and to empower and support communities to develop solutions to address these challenges.  LINK to RCCIP information

Original Community Members & Organizations working on this project:

— in no particular order!
Marge Knudson, Prairie Five CAC, Inc. & Child Care Aware
Nancie Haukos, First English Lutheran Church
Laura Laub, Big Stone County Family Services
Amy Weir, Big Stone County Family Services
Kari Dorry, Ortonville School District
Matt Karels, Ortonville EDA, Strong Realty
Scott Marquardt, Southwest Initiative Foundation
Sara Wollschlager, Ortonville School District
Brenda Zahrbock, Child Care Provider
Carrie Bendix, Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council
David Roger, Ortonville Area Health Services
Krista Hartman, Ortonville School Board
Kelsie Thomas, Parent
Lisa Graphenteen, Ortonville Economic Development Authority & Big Stone Area Growth
Let us know if you’d like your name/organization added – we have plenty of room for more involvement!

Resource Links will be added/updated below:

LINK:  The Economic Role of Paid Child Care in the U.S.