Cook County EDA and Public Health And a “Year of Support for Local Childcare Providers”

Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) and the Economic Development Authority (EDA) of Cook County are joined together in a series of efforts intended to strengthen and expand local childcare systems for the county.

Alison McIntyre, Director of PHHS, said, “The PHHS department is proud to be a partner in the ongoing collaborative efforts and infusion of new resources to support existing providers and expand access to care.”

The two agencies received a $180,000 grant from Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to fund initiatives to support new and existing childcare providers.

Specifically, the grant includes funding for five initiatives:

  •     A recruitment campaign for childcare workers that includes hiring bonuses
  •     Cover the time and cost of childcare providers to receive continuing education toward a Child Development Associate credential
  •     Create a subsidized slot program for new or expanding child care businesses to offset costs until the business reaches its capacity
  •     Monthly child care providers mentorship meetings that provide participation stipends
  •     Create a shared substitute provider pool for local, licensed providers to reduce closures due to staff absences

According to Nancie Deming, the newly appointed Childcare Coordinator/Licensor for Cook County, now is a great time to enter the childcare field here. “We still need more providers,” she added.

Deming has more than 15 years experience in early childhood care and education. She lives in Two Harbors, but commutes to Cook County four days a week. “I believe in high quality early childhood care and support for families,” she said. “I love this work, so the commute is worth it,” she added.

Hunter MacLaurin of Cook County has been working for almost a year to get her childcare business, focused on infant and toddler care, off the ground. As we reported last August, she was hoping to be open in time for the start of the school year. Licensing issues regarding her home based business held her back and she has not been able to open. 

She is working on licensing a site at the First Congregational Church in Grand Marais and hopes to be operational soon. She’s increased the planned scope of her business from six kids in care to as high as 10.

Deming says that a new daycare operator should plan on at least a four month process to receive licensing for an operation. There are multiple steps to go through. Fortunately, guiding people through the process is a prime function of Deming’s position.

Deming has the necessary forms and expertise to guide would-be providers in filing their application quickly and efficiently. After applying, a fingerprint background check of the applicant and any member of their household over the age of 13, if the planned care will be home based, is conducted. The applicant will be expected to have a written statement from a physician attesting to their fitness. The planned facility will likely need a fire marshall inspection. It should be a comfort to new applicants that a single source of support through the sometimes frustrating process is the county’s Childcare Coordinator/Licensor. 

“Right now there are just two places for infant day care in Cook County,” Deming said. One of those is in Grand Portage. Deming expects the local YMCA will reinstitute its infant care center in April and that it will have eight slots for infants.

The PHHS formed a subcommittee of its Advisory Council it calls “Childcare Solutions” that meets monthly to keep the public informed of its progress and challenges. The subcommittee meets the second Wednesday of the month from 2:30 to 4:00pm and the meetings are open to the public. Notes from the meetings are posted on the county’s online meeting portal at 

For questions about beginning a childcare practice or becoming a provider you may reach out to Nancie Deming by email at or phone at 218-387-5392.