The Cavalier County Job Development Authority’s (CCJDA) Daycare grant program has shown a lot of benefit to the community and to those who provide childcare services in its first few months of activity.
By Melissa Anderson
Thus far, $9,000 out of $25,000 allotted for the program has been awarded to four existing day cares and one new day care.
The providers who received grants are as follows:
A new licensed day care will open on May 8 under Julia Clouse. Childcare providers Sally Waltz and Patty Fetsch each received an existing day care grant plus extra for adding one new spot to their day cares. The day cares of Heather Brown and Jolene Thompson also received grant funding.
“So overall, 14 new spots will be added in Langdon based on applications received so far,” CCJDA Executive Director Shannon Duerr explained, “I think that is pretty exciting, and we hope to see more. We have met 56 percent of our goal which is to create 25 new spots.”
Many day cares that applied for the grant are planning to spend the money on construction related projects to improve their day cares, Duerr noted. “So they may have not started since we have not had much of a construction season yet.”
The program was created in response to the ever increasing demand for childcare in Cavalier County. Currently, the county only has 119 licensed spots, but the CCJDA has an ultimate goal of increasing that number.
“We set the goal at 25 new spots created for this round, and we will make a decision on how to proceed after that goal is met,” Duerr said.
The CCJDA came up with their grant amounts by comparing what other similar sized communities and counties were doing. In Dunn County, for instance, a program offers existing day cares $750 per year each time they renew their license and receive no critical violations and offers up to $5,000 to new day cares with the stipulation they must remain open a minimum of three years.
Carrington offered $1,000 grants to licensed day cares that created new slots and existing day cares would only qualify if they added spots. New Rockford had the same goal as CCJDA in the creation of 25 new spots and offered $500 grants per new slot created. Their stipulation for the grants were similar to Carrington in that new or existing day cares were only eligible for the grant if new spots were created. They also placed a $5,000 cap per day care.
Duerr also compared research on the internet and specifically referenced information collected by Forbes on the initial cost of creating new slots for children in day cares.
“Internet research shows that, according to Forbes, the average cost of a new day care is between $300 and $400 per child for equipment and supplies,” Duerr said.
In addition to the equipment and supplies, many day cares need construction updates such as egress windows and fences. Day cares also need insurance, licensing, training, etc.
“We felt that grants of $500 per new slot created would go far towards helping pay for startup expenses but would also leave some room for the day care owner to make some investment themselves so they have a stake in it,” Duerr explained.
New licensed day cares can receive up to $5,000 to assist in starting the day care to purchase necessary items. Existing day cares can receive $750 per year plus an additional $500 per new slot added.
“The existing day cares are eligible for more grants if they add more spots; they could get another grant,” Duerr stated.
“We let all the day cares apply right away for the program based on their current license and numbers. The day cares are eligible every time they renew their license and have no critical violations,” Duerr added.
For the new day cares, the grant has come at a perfect time to assist in their endeavors to provide childcare. For them, starting their own day care just made sense because there was no childcare available to take care of their own children.
“My biggest thing, because there is not enough day care in town, is that even if I did get a job- I wouldn’t be able to get day care for my child,” one of the newer providers said. “I have worked in day care for the past 4 and half years so figured why not keep doing what I love doing and watch other peoples children as well as my own?”
The need was so overwhelming that the providers did not even have to announce that they were accepting children. The newer day cares had their spots filled almost immediately.
“I didn’t even tell anybody, just word of mouth and within three days my slots were all filled.”
The CCJDA Day Care Grant Program has been a boon to the new and existing day cares. For the newer day cares, the assistance made starting up possible.
“I think it’s awesome. I don’t think I would have been able to get started without the grant and definitely would not have been able to get half the things I got without the grant assistance.”
“I think it’s great for all us daycares to be able to take advantage of it and get a little extra help,” the other newer day care added.
The newer day cares utilized the funds to make improvements to their locations by adding fences as well purchasing new equipment. One provider used the funding to assist in purchasing mostly toys and books and shelving. The other provider used her funding to assist in making her basement day care friendly by installing egress windows. Both providers will have fences installed as well.
“I would like to thank the JDA for doing this for all of us day cares. I greatly appreciate it,” one provider stated.
“The grant program is amazing, and without it we wouldn’t be able to do what we did. Even though you don’t make a ton of money doing childcare- it’s well worth it and provides a service that is desperately needed,” one provider shared.
One home day care, with many years of experience, had this to say about the grant program’s benefits to home-based childcare providers in the community, “A little bit is better than nothing, and I was very appreciative of receiving any financial assistance after so many years of not being recognized.”
This particular day care utilized the funds it received from the grant program by putting it towards continued training expenses as well getting new day care essentials for her children to enjoy such as a new highchair, booster, pack and play and new toys for the children to play with.
“It’s really nice to be able to update equipment in bulk rather than slowly as my finances allowed or as needed,” the provider said.
Another very experienced home childcare provider had similar thoughts on the program, ”I think it’s great that the home day cares are getting recognized and receiving financial assistance.”
This provider used her funding to improve her fence as well as update her outdoor and indoor equipment.
“I used it to get new things for them [the children] to learn and play with. It’s all for the kids,” she shared.
For the foreseeable future, the program will be in place up until the last of the initial $25,000 runs out. So far, the program has only used 36 percent of its initial funding.
“Once the funding is gone we will revisit the program and the statistics and determine if it needs to continue,” Duerr explained.
Thus far, CCJDA believes the program is going well and based on the numbers, it’s really having an impact on not only creating new spots but assisting in providing a better environment.
“It’s really nice to be able to help them out, and we wish we could do more, but we have a limited budget,” Duerr stated.
The grant program is open to any licensed day care residing in Cavalier County, and day cares are encouraged to apply for the grant.
“We still have funds in this program, and I would encourage anyone who is thinking about a day care to pick up an application as we still need more spots in Cavalier County,” Duerr said.
If you or someone you know is considering opening a day care or currently provide childcare services and would like to apply for the grant, please contact Shannon Duerr at 701-256-3475.