ND Rolls Out Incentives for Child-Care Workers
Thursday, August 18, 2022
North Dakota is looking at ways to stabilize its child-care workforce as parents struggle to find openings. Part of that involves a new initiative that offers incentives to staff at licensed centers in hopes of reducing turnover.
A recent report found that the average child-care worker in North Dakota is paid roughly $11 an hour - barely above poverty level for a family of three in a full-time scenario. The authors say that makes it harder for centers to stay open.
Kay Larson, director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services Early Childhood Division, said to counteract the problem, they're offering additional stipends to eligible workers.
"We know," said Larson, "that making consistent, stable care available for young children and families is so essential."
Stipends range from $150 to $600 per quarter. Incentives max out at $3,600 per person or when they reach 18 months of participation.
Last year, the Legislature allocated $17 million in federal COVID relief money to bolster child-care services, but some advocates said the state didn't go far enough. They argued that smaller investments will keep parents out of the workforce.
This year, the governor and other state leaders have had talks with providers on how to approach the issue during the 2023 legislation session.
Meanwhile, Larson reminded parents having trouble affording care to take advantage of recent changes to eligibility for aid.
"Right now," said Larson, "the North Dakota child-care assistance has waived the co-pays for families and increased eligibility to 85% of the state median income."
That means a family of three with a household income of just under $6,200 a month can now qualify. The previous threshold was just under $4,400.
As for the incentives program, Larson said they'll evaluate its impact on turnover, with the hopes of receiving more funding down the road.
A MODERN ECONOMY DEPENDS ON CHILD CARE. NORTH DAKOTA CAN MAKE IT AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE. ND Kids Count 8/1/21
Burgum signs final bills of special session, investing in infrastructure, workforce and other priorities the Governor of North Dakota 11/15/21
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