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Compiled by Caroline Downs
The need for more daycare providers extends beyond Kenmare across all of the state’s oil-producing counties.
To begin meeting that need, the Board of University and School Lands (Land Board) awarded $625,000 in Energy Impact grants on Thursday to help communities in those counties address shortages in available daycare centers.
The Land Board awarded matching grants, each totaling $125,000, to the cities of Crosby, Killdeer, Watford City and Williston as well as the Nesson School District in Ray to help establish five new childcare facilities. The matching grants cover as much as 50 percent of the costs for a childcare facility and essential equipment.
Governor Jack Dalrymple and other members of the Land Board created the pilot program in June. The program supports the establishment of community owned child care facilities to be publicly operated or leased to non-profit or for-profit operators. The grant funds can be used to purchase modular childcare facilities; to expand an existing publicly owned childcare facility; or to build a new publicly-owned facility.
“Rapid growth in our oil counties has created a growing need for child care services at a time when rising property values are making it more difficult to establish these facilities,” said Governor Dalrymple. “We will continue to work with local officials in our oil-producing counties to help meet the many impacts created by rapid development.”
According to an article by Teri Finneman in the July 27th issue of The Dickinson Press, the communities of Crosby and Killdeer are each planning to purchase a modular child care building to serve as many as 18 children, and Watford City will construct a center for up to 70 children. The Nesson School District intends to create a day care within the existing Ray school.
Finneman also reported the city of Williston will have to allocate its grant money based on local applications requesting the funds. The state Land Board received $2 million in requests for the special daycare funding, with 23 applications submitted from political subdivisions in the eligible counties.
Funds for the grants come from state tax revenue paid by the oil and gas industry.
Dalrymple is chairman of the five-member state Land Board. Other board members are Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Secretary of State Al Jaeger, Superintendent of Public Instruction Wayne Sanstead and Treasurer Kelly Schmidt.
The Legislature enhanced the Oil and Gas Impact Fund and appropriated $135 million for the 2011-13 biennium to offset direct energy impacts in the state’s oil and gas counties. So far, the state has authorized about $120 million for critical infrastructure upgrades, emergency service enhancements, rapid school enrollments and other needs.
Child care rates in area
The North Dakota Child Care Resource & Referral services handles training for early childhood professionals, family searches for child care, and other aspects of licensed child care in the state. ND CCR&R also helps communities assess and respond to their child care needs, while documenting those needs by county, as provided on the agency’s website at www.ndchildcare.org.
The most recent data available for Ward County, from September 2011, indicated about 30 percent of (2,537 of 8,424) children ages 0 through 12 who could potentially need child care do receive those services.
The annual cost of family- and group-licensed child care in Ward County averaged $6,119 for children ages 0 to 17 months, $5,939 for children ages 18 to 35 months, and $5,740 for children ages 3 to 5. The highest annual rate was $9,360.
The annual cost at a child care center averaged $7,301 for infants, $7,102 for toddlers, and $6,752 for kids ages 3 to 5, with the highest annual rate at $8,112 for infant care.
By comparison, Burke County offered licensed child care capacity in 2011 for 29 percent of the 176 kids ages 0 through 12 who could need those services, with average annual rates for family- and group-licensed facilities ranging from $5,179 for infants to $4,992 for children ages 3 to 5, and a high annual rate of $5,616.
Renville County offered care for 68 percent of the 214 children ages 0-12 who could need those services. Average annual rates ranged from $5,936 for infants to $5,774 for toddlers, with the highest annual rate at $7,020.
Annual rates at child care centers for Burke and Renville counties were considered on a region-wide basis, which averaged over $7000 for all three age groups with the highest annual rate at $8,320.
The ND CCR&R works with county agencies to license family care providers for up to 7 children, group care providers for up to 18 children while maintaining the required adult-child ratios, and centers for more than 18 children based on the square footage of the facility in use and the adult-child ratios. The licensing requirements are established in ND Century Code.