Child Care Workforce Issue needs Long-term Solutions and not Band-Aids
By Mohamed Hussein Feb. 28, 2023
"This week the Senate passed SB 2301, to supplement wages for child care workers whose median wages, $11.19 in 2021, barely hover above poverty. The passing of the bill is promising and we are grateful; unfortunately, legislators funded the bill far short of the plea of $150 million from the child care experts. The state House has the opportunity to address this shortfall.
Child care is critical to North Dakota’s economy and directly correlated to the state’s workforce. Child care providers are struggling to recruit and retain staffing, forcing many providers to close their doors permanently. At the core, this crisis is a workforce issue affecting North Dakota’s economy.
The phrase “the children are our future” has become a meaningless cliché. If we believed that, I wouldn’t have to write this letter requesting legislators to increase the funding to $150 million so child care workers, our most vital workforce, can have a livable wage, benefits and see long-term solutions. In 2015, the state created programs to increase child care slots, which did help, but six years later, here we are again. Short-term “Band-Aid solutions” slowed the bleeding, but COVID has exacerbated the problem to the breaking point.
We now have an opportunity for policymakers to make a meaningful investment to fix the child care workforce crisis and bring about economic growth. Firstly, it makes economic sense. Secondly, it is fiscally responsible as this investment will bring more back into the state. Lastly, it is the right thing to do for the Future of North Dakota.
Mohamed Hussein is the Vice-President at Jasmin Child Care and Preschool, a non-profit culturally responsive early education center in Fargo that has been serving the F-M community since 2015.