It’s risky in education to say any district was the first to do something. But in the mid-1980s, the small, rural Lanesboro Public Schools, in the southeastern part of Minnesota, was likely among the first to open an on-site child care center.

“It definitely makes us attractive,” Superintendent Matt Schultz, who arrived in the district in 2016, said in an interview. In an open enrollment state where families can choose where to send their children to school and some districts are consolidating in order to survive, the program is a recruitment tool and has a long waiting list, especially for infants. “The longer the waiting list, the more likely those kids would end up in another school district,” Schultz said.

And while some districts offer child care for employees, for teen parents or for students interested in pursuing a career in early-childhood education, Lanesboro’s program was launched in response to the community’s need for child care when an in-home provider closed.

Lanesboro Child Care Center now serves about 65 children from birth to age 5 and another 45 school-age children in before- and after-school care.

While the child care cost is not subsidized, it’s more affordable for families than other options, Schultz said, because the facility costs are covered by the district.

The program is also profiled in a new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) that combines a variety of examples of how public agencies, private organizations and the philanthropic sector are addressing child care facility needs.

“There is no more pressing issue for child care in this country than the need for facilities,” Linda Smith, the director of BPC’s Early Childhood Initiative, said recently during a live-streamed event on the topic.

Read the full article about the need for more on-site childcare by Linda Jacobson at Education Dive.