The issues of childcare and early childhood education are of high importance to all North Dakotans, including the members of North Dakota United. We know that the ongoing shortage of childcare providers is preventing parents from joining or rejoining the workforce at a time when there are more than 18,000 unfilled jobs in North Dakota.
A recent study by North Dakota Kids Count has revealed that for full-time infant care, families can expect to pay between $7,600 and $9,500, which is roughly what it costs to pay the tuition for an undergraduate at UND or NDSU.
Fourteen counties in North Dakota meet less than 60% of the demand, and eight of these counties also experience high unemployment or poverty. Parents that need care during non-traditional hours find even fewer options.
Only 3% of licensed programs are open during the weekends, 4% open during evenings, and 25% open during early morning hours. For families that do find care, the cost is often out of reach.
At the same time, child care businesses struggle to stay open and often must sacrifice worker pay to continue operating. Child care workers earn $24,150 per year if working full-time at the median wage of $11.61, just barely hovering above poverty level for a family of three.
After defeating Senate Bill 2301, a necessary $36 million dollar investment to stabilize North Dakota’s childcare workforce, the House introduced a more expansive childcare relief bill in House Bill 1540.
The bill provides investments in childcare assistance for working families, infant and toddler care, childcare employer cost-sharing, worker training, and additional needed relief for North Dakota families and childcare providers. The bill was introduced as a delayed bill on April 17, 2023. It passed through the House and Senate, and was concurred in the Senate. It was signed by the Governor on April 28, 2023.