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The West Fargo City Commission approved the creation of the Child Care Facility Improvement Grant for Workforce Development on Feb. 21. Under the grant program, licensed North Dakota child care providers may apply for a grant of up to $50,000 for improvements that will increase capacity and help providers maintain compliance with health, fire, and building codes. Child care centers may also apply for up to $15,000 for infant room expansion. The maximum award amount is based on license type and potential capacity.
Child care access plays an important role in recruiting and retaining a strong workforce in West Fargo. In a recent survey distributed to all West Fargo residents, 45% of respondents reported that the career of an adult in their household has been impacted due to lack of child care. Fourteen percent of respondents noted that an adult member of their household has left the workforce due to lack of childcare, and of those impacted 95% would reenter the workforce if childcare became more available and/or more affordable. In a survey of business owners, it was commonly reported that employees have been lost due to lack of child care availability.
While solutions are being worked on at the state level to solve the larger issues of child care affordability and access in North Dakota, the City of West Fargo intends for this grant program to help local providers grow their capacity and give parents some relief to keep them active members of the workforce.
The program will be administered through the city’s Economic Development division and is funded with economic development sales tax. Up to $1,000,000 has been allocated for this program to be used over the next three years.
More information on the program and application process is available for child care providers on the city’s website. A first round of applications will be accepted through March 15, 2023.