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Childcare Concerns Extend to Military

A Minot childcare committee is acknowledging a need to start putting solutions in place even as it continues to research childcare issues in the community.

Minot Air Force Base was unable to have an official representative at Wednesday’s committee meeting as scheduled, but the committee heard from military parents about their childcare concerns and questions about how military and state assistance programs can work together.

Both the Air Force and North Dakota have programs to assist families in paying for childcare, based on income guidelines. Childcare issues on the base are similar to those in the community in that they center around a lack of adequate numbers of providers and childcare workers.

Military parent Mario Ceballosmartinez spoke to the committee about the responsibility facing personnel guarding the nation’s defense to be at work, regardless of the accessibility of childcare.

“They get called – they gotta go,” he said. “The options have to be there. Obviously, they cannot be because there is not enough supply for the demand of the type that is required.”

The base makes an effort to help facilitate childcare for its personnel who have mission-related duties that can result in shift changes, mobilizations, deployments and other unique job-related factors.

“There are some programs in place but it’s finding the people that are going to provide that evening, overnight, extended care, and be able to get in,” said committee member and military parent Rianne Kuhn.

Minot City Manager Harold Stewart said in his conversations with the state, he was told the state childcare programs extend to military personnel. One new program provides $1.8 million to create partnerships for care provided during nontraditional hours.

Committee member Keli Rosselli-Sullivan with Minot Area Chamber EDC noted that while not solving the provider shortage, making information about childcare resources more available could help military personnel both on and off base. There was discussion about linking resources already available on different websites.

Ceballosmartinez asked for a marketing effort that puts the information in front of people rather than requiring them to search for it. Rosselli-Sullivan indicated that MACEDC may be able to do more to help in that regard.

Committee Chairman Scott Burlingame, a city council member, cited the need for a future committee conversation about career development in childcare as well as promotion of the programs available.

“What I would like to look at is what are things that we can begin to do now,” he said. “We’ve got a lot more information-gathering to do, but are there things that we can actually achieve now?”

On behalf of the committee, Burlingame is pursuing a Start Up Minot entrepreneurship event through MACEDC that targets childcare providers.

“There’s real opportunities if we can hook up the entrepreneurs who are looking to do this, and also employees that are looking to get into the field,” he said.

Source: Minot Daily News