A Thriving Economy depends on adequate Childcare: The importance of Childcare in Devils Lake

A Thriving Economy depends on adequate Childcare: The importance of Childcare in Devils Lake Main Photo

25 May 2022


Childcare is a crucial component of a modern economy that helps parents to stay in and contribute to the workforce. Childcare, that is not only high-quality but which is affordable too. Workers must know that their children are safe and well looked after during the day. Covid-19 has amply demonstrated how important childcare is; it shone a light on the complexity of challenges that were faced, across the country. Child care businesses operate on narrow profit margins, often struggle to pay adequate wages, and have high staff turnover. However, post-pandemic, this long undervalued industry played a key role in reopening, allowing businesses to recruit and retain workers.

Amber Stokke,  the Regional Clinic Manager at Altru Health System in Devils Lake, stresses upon the need for good-quality childcare in the community. She says, “ Covid hit us all hard, it was tough for everyone, in every aspect of life.  Staffing and attendance got impacted due to quarantines and illness. We went through a hard time.”

Childcare centers like Sunnyside: Enablers for the Workforce

But she says, childcare centers, like Sunnyside in the Devils Lake area have been lifesavers. “These centers, including Sunnyside, allow our community members to have a safe place for their children to attend while at work or school. Childcare centers are part of a foundation of a community, offering service to the members to allow them to work in our business, continue their education, and continue to grow the community.” 

Amber states that the contribution of the Forward Devils Lake Corporation in providing opportunities for members of the community to further their education or grow their knowledge in trades is reassuring. “This helps to fulfill the needs of our businesses with staff by assisting them with options, and financial obligations and provides the community of Devils Lake with skilled employees now and in the future.” 

But she feels that a lot more can be done in the vicinity of childcare facilities. “I feel that the need for childcare facilities is not something that only the Devils Lake community is having. Lack of childcare facilities is something that is affecting communities everywhere and needs to continue to be a focus within communities to ensure that we continue to look for ways together to create centers, employ centers and care for the children in need while maintaining and growing new businesses within our community”, she says.

In this regard, the North Dakota Department of Human Services has changed the qualifying income level for the state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) from 60% to 85% of the state median income (SMI). More North Dakota families will now qualify for help paying for the child care they need while they work, attend school or training, or apply and interview for jobs. With the new increased income criteria, a North Dakota family of three with a household income of $6,193 a month can now qualify. Previously, the qualifying monthly income for a household this size was $4,372. (Details about qualifying income levels by household size are on the department’s website at www.nd.gov/dhs/services/financialhelp/childcare.html.)

Childcare in Devils Lake: Incentives for childcare facilities and more

Brad Barth, Executive Director, Forward Devils Lake Corporation states that the corporation has provided yearly childcare incentive checks for facilities licensed for 30 children and larger for the past two years. “These checks have gone to the Center manager/owner to use as they see fit with their employees and operations.  Moreover, the Investor members of Forward Devils Lake Corporation contribute an annual Investment Fee that is used to fund the annual Incentive payments,” he says. 

According to Barth, another area that Forward Devils Lake Corporation is helping is with Manager and Assistant Manager training/education costs. “The corporation provides providing up to $6,000 per employee match that the ND University System matches for, up to $12,000 in support for Assistant Manager - Manager education training that complies with the ND Career Builders Scholarship and Loan Repayment program. This program provides either a scholarship for current students or loan repayment for those that have graduated from approved Child Care programs and have eligible student loans.” 
To learn more about these programs contact Brad Barth at Forward Devils Lake Corporation - call at (701) 662-4933 or (701) 230-3078, or write in at brad@forwarddevilslakend.com

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