BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – North Dakota legislators are considering Senate Bill 2301, which would establish a childcare stabilization program.
Many working adults do not have the opportunity to stay home with their children.
“Building the childcare system will really boost every industry,” said Nash Hama, a Bismarck mom.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, over 62% of households have both parents working.
“I think it’s really frustrating for a lot of parents, especially those with newborns. Pretty much as soon as you get pregnant, you have to get on lists,” said Hama.
As the Bismarck-Mandan area continues to grow, the need for more childcare grows along with it.
“It is the backbone for every working parent,” said Hama.
Local daycare providers tell Your News Leader the economy and the rising price of living are having a negative effect on the childcare industry.
“A lot of businesses, childcares, daycares are closing, and it’s due to not having funds,” said Mariah Pfeifer, director at Jan’s Little Jewels.
After speaking with many childcare facilities in the area, almost all of them have waiting lists for new children needing care — some as long as six months.
“If that daycare choice doesn’t work out or family changes, it’s really hard to be able to find different childcare if needed,” said Hama.
The North Dakota Child Care Action Alliance estimated the stabilization bill would require $150 million yearly to not only supplement wages for current childcare workers, but also for new, incentivized hires. The funding would help the cost of childcare to not rise with the cost of living.
“You know, we don’t want to raise the cost of childcare, but to be sustainable, you almost need to,” said Pfeifer.
Workers like Pfeifer say daycare shortages are a unique labor issue, in that it affects all other workforces. She believes if childcare struggles, so will the economy.
The local childcare organization along with childcare providers testified on January 26 and are hoping for a positive answer.