Minnesota Governor Tim Walz met with Snug as a Bug Childcare owner Maria Harms Aug. 19 (Image courtesy Redwood Falls EDA)

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar visited a new Redwood Falls childcare facility last week. On Aug. 19, the two visited with Maria Harms, owner of the new Snug as a Bug Childcare.

During the visit, Harms shared her concerns about obstacles currently facing childcare providers in Minnesota, including stringent licensing rules, financing shortfalls, and programming disconnect.

Harms, who started “Snug as a Bug Babysitting Adventures” when she was still in high school, went on to major in Business Management and Human Development, and Family Science in college. She later received a Master of Science degree Education Administration and Leadership.

In 2021, Harms and her father, Craig Piette, bought a plot on Bridge Street in Redwood Falls, and began construction of a 5,400 square foot building capable of providing childcare for up to 74 children from infancy through school age. The facility is expected to have nine or more full-time employees, and to officially open on Wednesday, Sept. 6.

SW Initiative Foundation President Scott Marquardt; City of Redwood Falls Council Member John Buckley; City of Redwood Falls Mayor Tom Quackenbush, Governor Tim Walz; owners of Snug as a Bug Childcare Aaron and Maria Harms; Senator Amy Klobuchar; City of Redwood Falls Council Members Larry Arentson and Matt Smith; Redwood County Economic Development Coordinator Briana Mumme; Redwood County Commissioner Board Chair Jim Salfer; City of Redwood Falls Council Member Denise Kerkhoff and City of Redwood Falls Administrator Keith Muetzel.

According to Briana Mumme, Economic Development Coordinator for Redwood County, a recent analysis shows the county currently needs 250 licensed openings for children ages five and under. That is over double the number needed in Feb. 2019.

Mumme also points out that childcare is something potential employees of Redwood County businesses take into account when deciding whether to settle here. Since 2017, the county EDA has supported the recruitment or retention of 47 in-home providers, and three childcare centers, in the county.