New Assistance Available for Williams County Child Care Providers

Even though the oil downturn may have slowed some things down, in certain parts of Western North Dakota, the baby boom is still going strong.
At Castle Child Care, enrollment numbers have remained steady.
“We’re always full and enrolling, but it’s a  big turnover,” says Lauren Vasquez, Castle Child Care director.
Though some may have moved away from the area during the downturn, the demand for child care has stayed put.
In fact, according to Child Care Aware, the supply of licensed child care in Williams County has decreased since 2014, while the demand has continued to rise. To address that gap in supply and demand, the Williston City Commission has approved new funding to help child care providers remain licensed and potentially expand.
“It starts with a base $350 that will help offset some of the licensing costs. And then from there it’s kind of a point system. So you’ll see additional dollars for if you upgrade your curriculum or some equipment in your facility. You’ll get additional dollars for the amount of infants that you care for,” says Shawn Wenko, Williston Economic Development executive director.
And Lauren Vasquez could certainly use funding towards infant care at the day care facility she manages. The infant room, she says, loses money rather than turning a profit. 
“It’s just so people have a place to go really. There’s a parent in there right now that if they didn’t have child care they couldn’t work,” says Vasquez. 
While infant care can be especially difficult to find, the need for it in Williams County is undeniable. CHI St. Alexius Health- Williston has seen the number of births at its hospital nearly double from 445 in 2007 to a high of 883 in 2015. While previous funding has gone towards launching new child care start-ups, the new initiative will primarily support currently licensed child care operators. 
“You don’t want to lose focus into just working on new startups. You want to make sure you maintain what you have in this market,” says Wenko.
And sustaining child care facilities, says Child Care Aware, prevents turnover of providers and a more stable, nurturing environment for the children in their care.
Funding for the Child Care Providers Assistance Program will become available in 2017.
For more information, visit or contact 701-577-8110

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