Data Update: Regional Child Care Demand

In April 2021, Northspan provided an update to the child care data used to inform the Community Solutions Action Plans throughout the Northland. This data set compares the total number of currently active licensed child care lots to population estimates for children under the age of six with both parents participating in the workforce.

The data in this report comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey (2019) and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (2021). Here are several key takeaways looking at changes from July 2020, when data was last gathered, to April 2021:

  • Overall, the Northland experienced modest gains (+57 children) in the population of children under six, as well as a reduction in available child care slots (-41 licensed slots).
  • The total growth demand throughout the region increased slightly from 47.4% to 48.7%.
  • Several areas gained children in population while losing child care slots. For example, the East Range area showed a 15% increase in children with no net change in child care slots.
  • With the opening of a new child care center, the Silver Bay area saw a reduction in demand from 500% in 2020 to 18.1% in 2021.
  • Cook County increased available child care slots by 42, reducing their overall demand by 120.6%.

The areas that show the largest changes in number of available child care slots include: 

  • Loss of available slots
    • Ely, St. Louis County: -55.9% (38 slots)
    • Proctor, St. Louis County: -32.5% (55 slots)
    • Northern St. Louis County: -27.8% (16 slots)
  • Gain of new slots: 
    • Silver Bay, Lake County: +76.6% (72 slots)
    • Northome Area, Itasca County: +25.0% (10 slots)
    • Northeast Itasca County (Nashwauk, Keewatin, Bovey, Marble, Coleraine): +10.4% (33 slots)

Top Demand Areas: The top areas showing steady or increased demand for additional child care slots are: 

  • Western Carlton County (Cromwell)
  • Isle, Aitkin County
  • East Range (Aurora, Biwabik, Hoyt Lakes, Town of White)
  • Saginaw, Culver (rural Southern St. Louis County)

If you would like more data on regional child care demand, you can view/download an extended report here or reach out to Northspan Research Director Karl Schuettler at

Helping communities develop Community Solutions Action Plans to meet child care demand has been a central focus for Northspan. You can read more here about our work with Little Mariners Child Care Center in Silver Bay, or contact Northspan Associate Consultant and Operations Manager Amanda Vuicich at for more info.