Report: Daycare costs in North Dakota & Minnesota higher than price of college

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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Bobbie Meither says she pulled her 5-year-old child out of a West Fargo daycare after watching our Whistleblower Hotline story.

“I would recommend you find a better day care, where your child would be treated fairly and loved,” Meither said.

Despite the issues at Tiny Town Child Care, it does have pluses that attracted Meither and other parents.

“It's hard to find daycare that opened that early,” Meither said.

Besides that, Meithter said they were an inexpensive option.

“I don't think any daycare in my opinion is really affordable, it's definitely expensive,” Meither said. “It's part of being a parent though."

Data from the non-profit Child Care Aware found that in North Dakota and Minnesota on average, you spend more on one year of taking your child to a daycare center than you pay in one year's tuition at a four-year public university.

“The biggest misconception in our area, the Fargo-Moorhead area, is that there is a major lack of child care,” Lori Schwartz, executive director of Lakes and Prairies Community Action Partnership, said.

Schwartz said the area lacks high quality affordable options.

“It can be really expensive for parents, especially parents that can't find livable wage jobs,” Schwartz said.

Maria Steen, the manager of Child Care Aware for Clay and Wilkin counties, said more than 80 percent of a daycare's budget goes to paying employees, who generally make around the minimum wage.

“We are asking them to be highly qualified, but we're not compensating them for the knowledge and skills that we want for the providers, and that's leading to a crisis in our workforce,” Steen said.

Both experts said that in order to lower daycare costs, more money needs to come from federal and state governments. This is being discussed in Minnesota.

In North Dakota, a single parent pays a third of their income towards daycare and it's more than a half in Minnesota, according to Child Care Aware.