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Proposed budget change focuses on new Superior child care providers

Councilor Jenny Van Sickle wants to reallocate $200,000 in federal recovery dollars to create a program that will help new child care providers open in Superior.

Government Center in Superior.jpg
Government Center in Superior. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

SUPERIOR – City Councilor Jenny Van Sickle plans to ask for a change in a $17 million budget proposal to help increase the number of local child care providers.

Mayor Jim Paine proposed allocating $750,000 in federal recovery dollars to the city’s Neighborhood Improvement Fund. Van Sickle plans to ask the council to reduce that to $550,000 and set aside $200,000 to address an identified issue in the current labor shortage, she said.

The Superior Housing Authority's eviction of long-time residents and child care providers doesn't sit well with families affected.

The proposed amendment comes two weeks after the city council heard from some of the families that will be without child care when David and Diana Deeth are evicted from their three-bedroom house by the Superior Housing Authority because their family no longer requires that many bedrooms. With the eviction, the couple said they would be forced to close their home-based licensed child care, Oasis Kare.

“In the wake of the Deeths, I can’t stop thinking about those 11 families that need child care,” Van Sickle said. “They have to go to school. They have to go to work. We’ve got to do something as quickly as we can to help these families.”

While she hears discussions about economic development and getting people back in the work force, Van Sickle said child care is often an overlooked element despite being a basic need for families with young children.

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“I want the people who are thinking about opening a child care or people who have considered it in the past to see that we have their back,” Van Sickle said.

The goal is to create a program similar to the city’s small business grant program to provide funding that can be used toward construction, licensing, education and technology to facilitate new child care facilities in Superior.

Van Sickle said her main goal is that the program is flexible to meet the needs of providers.

“This federal money is such a huge opportunity,” Van Sickle said. “I think, to scale, this is a healthy amount to start with … the point is to get slots open.”

The $17 million budget that includes funding for broadband, historic rehabilitation, public safety, recreation, homelessness and mental health will be discussed at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1, in Room 201 of the Government Center.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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As reported by Douglas County.
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