Lyon County Board discusses area child care needs

MARSHALL — For many people in southwest Minnesota, child care is a crucial service, but one that’s hard to find. There’s enough need that Lyon County commissioners started discussing Tuesday whether they could do anything to help.

While there weren’t any actions that came from the discussion, commissioners all agreed it was an issue they needed to talk about.

Commissioner Rick Anderson brought up the topic of child care during the Lyon County Board’s regular meeting. Anderson said he and Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg recently attended a meeting about area child care needs, which was held at the Marshall area YMCA. One of the ideas that came out of that discussion, Anderson said, was for counties to possibly take a more active role in making sure child care was available. Suggestions of ways to assist with child care included providing funds to help families with the cost of child care, or maybe even providing financial incentives to child care centers to help prevent staff turnover.

“I want to have a conversation with this board,” Anderson said, to see if it wanted to pursue something similar. With expansions planned for area businesses like Ralco and tru Shrimp, “The need is definitely out there.”

Other commissioners agreed with Anderson that the need was there. However, there were a lot of questions that needed answering on the subject.

“How you choose who to help?” asked Commissioner Charlie Sanow. “How do you sort that out, so you do it fairly among the whole county?”

County Board Chairman Paul Graupmann asked if the county could even legally help child care businesses. Commissioner Gary Crowley said he also had reservations about subsidizing private businesses.

If the county did decide to provide assistance for child care, Sanow said, it would have to go to county residents, and not businesses.