The child care sector in the United States has been one of the hardest hit industries by the COVID-19 pandemic.[i] Child care providers not only needed to adapt to changing demand for in-person services but also needed to be ready with staff and resources when families started to return. For many programs, temporary or permanent closures have been the reality, and staff shortages continue to be a significant challenge.[ii] Amidst this context, many programs have accrued financial debt in order to remain open and safely serve children.[iii]

We invited all licensed center and family child care providers and certified centers[1] in Minnesota to complete an online survey from November 2021 to February 2022 to better understand how these providers were faring at that point in the pandemic. The survey included a variety of topics, including closures, financial losses and financial aid, enrollment, professional development, and well-being. This brief summarizes key findings from the survey, as well as previous findings from the Peacetime Emergency Child Care Grant survey, which was administered in Summer 2020 to Minnesota Peacetime Emergency Child Care Grant applicants. We also discuss considerations for policymakers.

Key findings

  • Temporary or permanent closing due to COVID: Fifty-one percent of licensed centers, 49 percent of family child care providers, and 30 percent of certified center respondents reported closing either temporarily or permanently since March 2020.
    • Among licensed centers that have needed to close a classroom since March 2020, 43 percent were medium-sized centers.
  • Changes in revenue: Medium and large licensed centers were significantly more likely to report receiving “much less” revenue in 2020 compared to 2019 than family child care providers.
    • Licensed centers were significantly more likely to report that costs of doing business had increased compared to family child care providers.

Suggested citation

Ulmen, K., Tang, J., & Warner, M. (2023). Assessing Minnesota child care providers’ resilience throughout COVID-19. Child Trends.


[1] Note: In Minnesota, the Department of Human Services (DHS) oversees licensure of family child care and center-based programs. However, DHS has the authority to certify license-exempt programs (e.g., programs operated by a school or other organizations whose purpose is to provide child care services; Head Start; camps) that wish to accept child care subsidies.

[2] More research is needed to understand the reasons behind this finding, yet previous reports have found that job losses have disproportionately impacted Black and Latinx workers, particularly Black and Latina women. For some families, it may have made financial sense to pull children out of care while a parent/guardian was home. It is also possible that Black child care providers were not able to access financial aid to cover lost revenue as easily as others.

[3] Respondents could select more than one race. Individuals who selected more than one race were grouped together to form the “multi-racial” category.


[i] National Association for the Education of Young Children (2020, July 13). Holding on until help comes: A survey reveals child care’s fight to survive.

[ii] Weiland, C., Greenberg, E., Bassok, D., Markowitz, A., Guerrero Rosada, P., Luetmer, G., Abenavoli, R., Gomez, C., Johnson, A., Jones-Harden, B., Maier, M., McCormick, M., Morris, P., Nores, M., Phillips, D., & Snow, C. (2021). Historic crisis, historic opportunity: Using evidence to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on young children and early care and education programs. Education Policy Initiative at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and the Urban Institute.

[iii] National Association for the Education of Young Children (2020). Am I next? Sacrificing to stay open, child care providers face a bleak future without relief.