Amendments to Daycare Bill | VideoJessica Roose | 3/11/2013
Daycare providers in North Dakota say they`ve always tried to provide quality care to kids. But that care could get much harder to find if something isn`t done soon about the child care crisis.
"For about five and a half weeks my husband and I tried to find anything and everything, any kind of option that was available to us. Just through connections we happened to get into another center that`s on the risk of closing in a couple of months," said Libby Claerbout, a Minot mother.
The center she`s in now is one of nine in Ward County that say they could close if nothing changes. This is the second time she`s had to find a new child care center, after her first one already closed.
"It`s really scary. It scares me to death," she said.
Legislators listened to testimony about what the problems, and potential solutions, could be.
"The problem is more people are coming to the state, the capacity`s reducing. It`s a simple matter of economics. Centers cannot cash flow and it`s because they can`t afford labor and the quantity of labor. Adjusting the ratios as proposed will make substantive impacts in the short term," said Corcoran School President T.J. Corcoran.
The original bill was intended to provide grants to centers across the state. Instead, amendments were added to increase the child to staff ratio.
"I can`t imagine. I would tell anybody that is going to work in that room, if you`re going to up those ratios, to get a new job. The insanity, North Dakota has never tried to do quantity care, it`s always been quality care," said Maarja Krong with Angels Among Us Childcare.
The new ratios would allow one provider to care for five infants instead of four, and care for ten three year olds, instead of seven. It would also allow an unlimited number of six to twelve year olds to be cared for by a single provider.
"It`s troubling to me to see the original purpose of this bill and how it`s shifted significantly," said Lindsay Auran, a Minot child care provider
Many of the providers say they can`t support the bill if the amendments are not taken out.
I spoke with one woman after the meeting that says there is actually a daycare shutdown in the works, no word yet on when that could be. But it would allow centers around the state to close their doors for one day, to not only bring awareness to the issue, but to allow the providers to have some time to figure out what they are going to do next.