Stark County childcare shortage

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DICKINSON, N.D. - Melissa Farnsworth has a full house. Her preschool is licensed for 45 children, and they're at capacity.

"In March we open up to the public if there's any spaces remaining at that time. We are generally full, I would say, by April, May at the latest," says Farnsworth, Grasslands Montessori Academy Owner.

But Grasslands Montessori isn't the only child care program in Dickinson that's full. Only 18 percent of childcare program needs are met in Stark County.

According to childcare Aware North Dakota, the county has 735 spots in licensed childcare programs, but the potential demand for those spots is over 4,000.

"All around, it's tough. Most places have waiting lists that roll over. I know that we get a lot of calls from people that just had a baby, and they want their child, when they're old enough at 18 months, to get in," says Farnsworth.

Across town, Hope Christian Academy's preschool is full as well.

"By the summer, pre-registration, and yeah. Definitely before registration started we were full," says Shane Bradley, Hope Christian Administrator.

Bradley says at least once a month, a parent calls and asks to be put on the waiting list.

Farnsworth says they plan on expanding Grasslands Montessori, and will have an extra 13 spaces for toddlers.​