School came to an end this past month, but parents in need of summer-time childcare would have had to start looking a long time ago.
According to Child Care Aware of North Dakota, the average cost of a state-licensed child care center in Ward Country is just about 9,500 dollars a year for infants and toddlers up to 17 months.
The cost does go down a bit as age increases, but the price isn’t the only hurdle for parents.
Finding space for your child can be a challenge as well.
“It’s not an easy thing to find – it’s very hard search,” Carisa Reinholdt said.
She has three kids – they’re 12, nine and nine months old.
When her oldest son was one, she spent about a year looking for full-time child care.
When she did find a place she trusted, it was a part-time opening, leading her to switch her job from full-time to part-time.
“It took me a very long time to find a child care that didn’t have some blemishes on their record after checking with social services and that I felt 100 percent comfortable with,” Reinholdt said.
She was on waiting lists at other day care centers for her youngest son before a new one opened and she snagged a spot.
As I found out at one center, the wait can be a year long.
Director of Little Hands Loving Hearts, Karla Ross, said, “If they come in as an infant, they usually remain in the center for the period of time until they’re of school age and go off to kindergarten, and there’s rarely any openings in between that time frame.”
State licensing limits the number of kids at a center, based on things like the space and staff size.
“We only take six weeks to six years here so we cannot take those children that have been in school all year so if parents have older children and their younger children can remain here during the summer but they have to find other care for their other school-aged children and that becomes a challenge for many parents,” Ross added.
Reinholdt said she’s used at-home day cares, centers, nannies and babysitters in the past.
And she has a tip if you’re searching for child care – check with social services and parents.
She said, “use the power of social media because your friend or previous co worker might have a great resource for you that you are not aware of.”
Reinholdt said to look for childcare as early as possible, and says she’s found you get what you pay for.
Many day cares in the area, both centers and at-home, also include discounts for multiple kids.
Public School Districts can provide programs as well.