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Daycare Options Lacking For Rural Minnesota Families

Families in rural Minnesota are struggling to find spots in day care centers and are losing out on work opportunities as a result, according to a recent story by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

In parts of rural Minnesota, daycare centers are few and far between and many face financial deficits due to an attempt to make childcare rates affordable for parents, even though centers face high operating costs. More than one in 10 parents in the state, and one in five low-income parents, say that a lack of child care has prevented them from keeping or getting jobs, according to the article. Nearly 75 percent of children under six in Minnesota have parents who work, compared to 65 percent nationwide.

Across the country, access to pre-K is also lacking in many rural states, according to statistics compiled by the National Institute of Early Education Research, based at Rutgers University. In the 2012-13 school year, eight of the 10 states that did not offer a preschool program for 3-or 4-year-olds were states with a higher percentage of students in rural schools than the national average.

Research has found that a high-quality early childhood education can boost reading and math scores and teach children important classroom skills like how to raise their hands and pay attention.  A 2013 study published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly found that rural children tend to enter kindergarten behind their peers from suburbs and small cities when it comes to math and reading skills, and have "fewer educational materials and activities."

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