<< All News Friday, April 28, 2023 - 04:11 pm

Gov. Doug Burgum today signed House Bill 1540, which provides nearly $66 million to support child care services and help address a major barrier to workforce participation as North Dakota continues to face a severe workforce shortage.

“This is a historic day for North Dakota children, parents and employers. House Bill 1540 will have a positive impact on thousands of families and help our state build and sustain a workforce to support economic growth and reach its full potential,” Burgum said. “Expanding access to affordable, quality child care will make it easier for parents and guardians to engage in work, provide for their families and strengthen local businesses and their communities. We’re deeply grateful to the bill’s supporters and all the business leaders, child care providers, chambers of commerce, Workforce Development Council members, Department of Health and Human Services team members, industry groups and legislators who spent 14 months developing the framework for this landmark legislation and moved it across the finish line.”

Last September, Burgum and lawmakers proposed a $76 million comprehensive package to address the availability, affordability and quality of child care as a barrier to workforce participation. The nearly $66 million in HB 1540 funds many of those proposals, including:

  • $22 million to expand the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), increasing the number of families with children ages 0 to 3 who receive help paying for child care from 4,660 to 6,460 by the end of the 2023-2025 biennium.
  • $15 million to incentivize more providers to deliver child care for infants and toddlers by increasing the CCAP rates for child care centers and group/family child care settings, plus $3 million to increase monthly payments to providers who are quality rated;
  • $5 million for an additional 500 families to participate in a pilot project where private employers contribute money to help cover their employees’ child care expenses;
  • $2 million in stipends for child care workers pursuing additional training.
  • $3 million to increase support to providers who want to become quality-rated or increase their current quality rating.

Overall, the bill’s far-reaching impact means an estimated 2,200 extremely low-income working families will no longer have a co-pay requirement for child care; at least 1,800 additional children will receive CCAP support each month; 3,500 child care spots will receive increased CCAP payments for quality and infant/toddler care; 1,200 to 1,800 child care workers will receive training stipends; over 800 providers will receive grants or shared service supports; and over 9,000 child care-related background checks will be completed more quickly and efficiently.

“House Bill 1540 addresses the current needs of our child care system: access, affordability and quality,” Rep. Emily O’Brien of Grand Forks, the bill’s prime sponsor, said during today’s signing ceremony at the Missouri Family YMCA child care center in Bismarck. “This ($65.6) million package supports low-income families, employers, providers, state employees, quality-based programs and outcomes.”

Co-sponsoring the bill were House Majority Leader Mike Lefor, Senate Minority Leader Kathy Hogan, Reps. Alisa Mitskog, Jon Nelson, Greg Stemen, Don Vigessa and Robin Weisz and Sens. Curt Kreun and Judy Lee.

Lefor thanked O’Brien, Burgum, Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, Senate Majority Leader David Hogue, House Minority Leader Josh Boschee, Hogan and others for their work on the bill.

“This bill provides a foundation for a child care system that is high quality, affordable and accessible for all North Dakota families,” Lefor said. “This package provides the most effective vehicles for the Legislature to continue building on our progress and stabilize the child care workforce that our state’s economy so heavily relies upon.”

The House approved the final bill by a vote of 72-20, and the Senate passed it 41-5.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Chris Jones praised the bill, noting the importance of quality child care to the brain development of young children.

“We are so excited to see what impact it’s going to make over the next two years and really help the workforce of today, but also the workforce of tomorrow,” Jones said.

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