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ND Rolls Out Child Care Cost-Sharing Program

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Monday, March 13, 2023   

As policymakers consider solutions to North Dakota's child care crisis, a state agency is moving forward with incentives they hope will compel more workplaces to help staff with care costs.

The Health and Human Services department is asking employers to participate in a pilot program. It offers matching funds when a business provides at least $300 in monthly benefits to an employee who has a child between zero and three years old and signed up for care at a licensed facility.

Kay Larson, early childhood section director for the department, said they hope removing the cost burden will prevent parents from taking long pauses in their careers.

"Families with young children often face the greatest economic pressure, and they're making critical decisions about how and if they can reenter the workforce," Larson observed. "And then they're considering that cost of tuition. "

According to Kids Count researchers, North Dakota families each year are paying between nearly $8,000 and nearly $10,000 on average for child care. The pilot program is being funded with federal pandemic relief aid. State lawmakers are considering a similar long-term initiative as they debate a range of child care proposals this session.

As for the current funding, Larson noted they anticipate it will last for at least the next couple of years.

"North Dakota set aside just over $9 million for this," Larson pointed out. "We're anticipating we can help over 1,000 infants and toddlers in this process."

In getting payments from both the state and their employer, she emphasized it could make a big dent in monthly child care costs for families. There are eligibility requirements for workers to receive cost-share subsidies. While employers can go as high as they want in offering monthly child care benefits, North Dakota's limit for matching funds is $300.


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