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Childcare provider appreciation day

Published: May. 7, 2021 at 7:35 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Friday is Childcare Provider Appreciation Day, but are there enough providers to appreciate?

Last year, childcare providers were never ordered to shut down. However, one out of four did close their doors.

That has created a gap in services just as schools get ready to close for the summer.

With more people going to work, there’s increasing demand for childcare, especially for infants.

As the need grows, the Department of Human Services is pushing its resources to bring in new providers and the methods for the new ones are being tried and tested by the veterans.

For the past 36 years, Sue Brady has been operating her own child daycare operation out her Bismarck home.

Many would say it takes a special kind of person to do that.

“I love infants. I would rather have infants start and grow with my program so I can grow with them. I know what they need, I know what they want, and it’s just a wonderful way to start. Right?” Brady said.

Thanks to the support of her clients, as well as financial support during the pandemic, Sue was able to keep her operation going.

“It was tough... very sad for a while. I only had a couple kids. When the parents were able to stay home with their children, they opted to stay home. I did have a few parents bring their kids, so I was able to stay open the whole time,” Brady added.

With the slow return to normal, providers who managed to weather the pandemic are now finding a shortage of colleagues.

According to DHS estimations, there are 47,000 children in North Dakota eligible for childcare services.

Normally, the agency aims to have at least 50% of that capacity available.

This year, it’s 36%.

“There’s a need for childcare across the state, even in counties that might have a high threshold in capacity to serve children and families that might not be based on the needs of the age of the child; maybe their work hours, maybe the affordability. Those kinds of things,” Kay Larson of Child Care Aware said.

But the effects go further than just this summer.

State leaders say having community infrastructure like childcare can be a recruitment tool and helps develop local economies.

“Childcare providers have been essential workers long before COVID. I think everyone agrees children are our best resource, but it’s not only children that are our greatest resource; it’s the workforce we need. And without quality affordable childcare, we’re always going to have difficulty having individuals working in the workforce in North Dakota,” Human Services Department Executive Director Chris Jones said.

Thanks to people like Sue, parents can return to the workforce knowing the next generation is in good hands.

To help new providers get started, DHS and Child Care Aware offer training and other resources.

If you would like to start your own operation follow the link: https://ndchildcare.org/start/

Info for finding a provider: https://ndchildcare.org/parents/.

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