Alexandra Deufel, Burlington
I want to thank Minot legislators Robert Frantsvog and Karen Krebsbach, who drafted a bill (HB 1422) that seeks an appropriation to stabilize the availability of childcare in the state. There is a childcare crisis in North Dakota that affects small business. Increases in wages across the board have made it impossible for childcare centers and other licensed childcares to hire the staff necessary to run their operations. Unlike most businesses, childcares are limited in how much they can raise their prices (tuition) because their "customers" (parents) can only pay so much before it becomes necessary for one parent to stay home. While it was once common and desirable for women to stay home to raise their small children, times have changed. Grandparents are not always available to help and it takes two incomes for most families to be able to afford to live here. North Dakota cannot afford to have half the workforce stay home when many small businesses cannot find the workers they need to operate.
Keeping tuition at current levels: childcares close because of lack of workers.
Raising tuition to break even at market level wages: childcares close because parents stay home. Rising childcare prices will also drive single parents out of the workforce and onto welfare rolls and food stamps.
As a member of the board of directors of the YWCA Minot I have first-hand experience with this issue. The Minot YW operated a non-profit childcare center that by the time we had to close it in August 2012 had the highest tuition of all the Minot centers and was losing a lot of money every month.
Currently, less than 25 percent of the need for licensed childcare is met across the state. Almost all the centers that are still open are non-profits attached to churches and supported by church charity, which is limited. We cannot afford to have more childcares close. They need the opportunity to apply for grants to support their operation. Let us all hope and work for the passage of this bill. We don't need tax-reductions for oil companies swimming in profits.
Thank you again to Representative Frantsvog and Senator Krebsbach for supporting North Dakota families!