Coalition proposes creation of ND Child Care Workforce Fund

(Dakota News Now)
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 12:58 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - In early 2022 the North Dakota Child Care Action Alliance (NDCCAA) was formed to connect parents, providers and businesses into seeking long-term solutions to the state’s child care crisis. From May to September 2022, NDCCAA hosted six listening sessions to hear how the child care crisis has impacted the state’s families, child care workers and providers, and local businesses.

“Child care is a unique labor issue that affects all other workforces. The breadth of this crisis requires innovative solutions and significant investments,” said Erin Laverdure, North Dakota Child Care Action Alliance. “After a year of research, listening sessions, and consulting with child care workers and providers, the North Dakota Child Care Action Alliance is excited to share a real-life solution to improve access to child care in ND without passing the costs to families.

NDCCA is calling for the creation of the Child Care Workforce Fund to provide supplemental wages and support for continuing education and training in the field of child development for teachers, teacher’s assistants, or family child care home professionals. The group says increased worker pay through state-supplemented wages ensures North Dakota can maintain and expand access to child care across the state.

“We call upon legislators to design a Child Care Workforce Fund to increase worker pay through state-supplemented wages to shore-up and expand access to child care,” Laverdure said. “Without this investment to recruit, retain and grow this workforce, our already fractured child care system is not sustainable.”

Linda Schroeder has operated an in-home childcare business for more than 32 years.

“North Dakota’s childcare crisis has been going on for decades and the needs of the state’s child care workers and providers and the needs of working families can no longer be ignored,” Schroeder said. “In the three decades that I have provided childcare for families the structure of the family dynamic has changed considerably. It is no longer mom, dad, and child. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, foster parents and guardians have all had to take on the role of parenting.”

Mohamed Hussein with Jasmine Child Care and Preschool says access to affordable child care is essential for parents to remain in the workforce and to maintain quality employment.

“Our experience has shown that North Dakota has consistently had a higher demand for childcare than there is supply; exacerbated by childcare centers closing. The only solution is to build a strong workforce in the childcare industry. I firmly believe that the person who teaches your children should be paid a living wage. Therefore it is in the state’s best interests to invest in a childcare workforce to get families back to work,” Hussein said.

The policy concept is intended to provide guidance for a path forward out of the child care crisis. To learn more about the North Dakota Child Care Action Alliance visit www.ndccaa.com.