Williams County officials working to provide more childcare services

Local News

With the Bakken offering more and more job opportunities and bringing new families to the area, the population is increasing quite a bit.

Williams County plans to increase its childcare services in order to keep up and even create more opportunities.

Over the last year, officials from the City of Willison and Williams County have discussed the lack of childcare facilities to accommodate their fastly growing community of children.

“Our average age has got quite a bit younger and so you’re seeing more families and new couples coming into this area, so that means younger families or couples that are going to start a family,” Executive Director of the Williston Economic Development Office Shawn Wenko said.

To address the situation, county and city officials have agreed to allocate funding toward a brand new child care facility.

“Initial thoughts is this could be a million-dollar project. Again we’d have to go back to the drawing board, take a look at what we were looking at as previously in 2019, look at what some of those costs are, revamp the project a bit and really figure out where this will land in the costs of things,” Wenko said.

Along with the agreement to allocate funds, Williston State College has agreed to use its campus as the home for the much-needed service.

“The current space we’re talking about is Creighton Hall on campus. It occurs to me that when we did the first planning we’re talking perhaps 40 to 70 students could be served in there. So whether that’s going to be really like an infant center or if it’s going to be more of a pre-k or learning lab, I don’t have a good sense of that yet,” WSC President John Miller said.

He says what he does have sense of is the opportunities that it can open for the college.

“It gives us a chance to look at some new programs and I mean in this case would be an early childhood bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education,” he said.

Miller says opening that new door for students would allow them not only to obtain an education in a new field but also to create job opportunities without having to go far, something Wenko seems to agree with.

“It’s a quality of life thing, we have to have access to good quality child care here because it’s going to help with workforce development and help with overall growth in our community as we build this community for the future,” Wenko said.

Wenko says the hope is to have things pushing forward by 2021.

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