North Dakota child care system at breaking point
Updated: Sep 23, 2022
By Jamie Lange, West Fargo
The child care crisis in North Dakota has been an issue long before the pandemic, so when I became pregnant in 2020, we notified our daycare immediately to secure a spot. Our daycare couldn’t commit due to staffing shortages exacerbated by the pandemic, so I spent much of my maternity leave stressing about the possibility of being forced to quit a job that I loved due to not having child care. Access to affordable child care is essential for parents to remain in the workforce and to maintain quality employment.
When my maternity leave ended, in order to return to work, we had to rely on our family for several weeks until we could get into daycare. Within weeks of securing a spot, the daycare started having staffing shortages which resulted in classrooms closing every week, forcing my husband and I to miss additional time at work.
Every day, I see posts on social media from working parents desperate to find care for their children. These parents are trying to return from leave, trying to find before/after school care, or are being notified their daycare is closing on short notice (sometimes permanently).
We are at a breaking point and cannot delay this until the next legislative session. We need real innovation and investment to address this crisis. North Dakota’s kids, families, communities, employers, and economy depend on it. It is important that North Dakota policymakers prioritize the success of high-quality child care programs and their workforce. We need action now.