Child Care Bills | VideoJessica Roose | 2/15/2013
The cost of childcare has been rising in counties across the state. Parents and daycare providers have brought their concerns to the legislature to try and get some relief.
"Quality, affordable, and available childcare is so very, very important in the first four years of a child`s life," said Senator Joan Heckaman (D) from New Rockford.
Which is why members of both parties, in both chambers, have been working to get legislation passed to provide grants to centers around the state. One bill in the House would have given $13 million in grants, but after it was amended, those funds were taken out of the bill.
"Right now the bill does still have 1.6 million for technical assistance. However I`m not sure who we`re going to assist because there are an awful lot of centers going out of business," said Representative Kathy Hawken (R) from Fargo.
The Senate versions, while facing cuts, haven`t been as steep. One bill had called for $700,000 to go to the Department of Human Services to help assist specialists and providers with special needs children. That`s been amended to $500,000.
"Whether it`s a medical need, behavioral need or nutritional need, parents deserve reassurance that there will be a care provider there prepared to accept their child into that setting," Heckaman said.
She says there are currently about 6,000 special needs children in childcare centers around the state. Both Heckaman and Hawken say they are hopeful that the legislation will get some of the funding put back into them by the end of the session.
Another bill would have given six million dollars in grants to the Head Start program. But the bill was amended to take the funds out and turn the bill instead into a study of the program. That bill passed on the House floor this afternoon.