Dozens of parents crowded into ABC Child Care Center in Minot last night -- joined by six legislators from the region -- to discuss what child care officials call a crisis.
In a letter circulated last month to the parents of more than 500 kids who attend many area child care centers, it was said that costs may have to rise dramatically in order to keep staff, and therefore remain open.
At the meeting last night, center directors and parents lobbied lawmakers, hoping the spur action at the capitol where the legislative session begins next Tuesday.
(LaVonne Beyerle - ABC Childcare Center) "So we are asking for legislative action this year. We want to pull something together." (Karla Ross - Little Hands Loving Hearts Child Care Center) "Honestly the answer is help from the state. Legislative help is our answer. Operational funding is what we need. We are not asking for the world, we are just asking for operation funding."
The Governor has suggested lawmakers send him a bill sending five million dollars for expanding existing child care sites...and creating new sites.
But that doesn't answer the problem area directors say.
They want 'operational funding' -- money to offset expenses in the day-to-day operation of a center...so that more money can be free to pay employees, without putting the full burden on parents.
(Karla Ross - Little Hands Loving Hearts Child Care Center) "The grants ask for a project...a playground, a new set of tables, a fantastic...whatever you are adding to your center. I don't care if I have the best equipment that this state can provide. If I don't have quality, loving, nurturing people...that means nothing."
So what now?
It was decided a committee will be formed to work on possible legislation that could come to the floor of the Capitol -- as well as a group that could lobby legislators in Bismarck.
It will all have to happen quickly -- the session begins Tuesday.