East Grand Forks mother and local leaders talk about childcare needs – Grand Forks Herald

EAST GRAND FORKS — The Grand Forks Herald spoke with Paul Gorte, director of economic development for East Grand Forks, and Brianna Feil, mother and Water & Light accountant for East Grand Forks, to talk about her work with the program. innovation in rural child care. to help bridge the gap between East Grand Forks families who need child care and child care providers.

Q: What is the purpose of the East Grand Forks Child Care Town Hall Project?

A: Paul Gorte: We know there is a need for additional, affordable and available child care for people in this area, and due to the source of funding, we need to look at that on the East Grand side. Forks, Minnesota side, but that’s the wide area. It’s not just us. This is us in Grand Forks. And we wanted to fix that. One of the things we talked about all the time is how tight the unemployment market is, how hard it is to find someone. There is an estimate of 210 places, 210 slots that are needed. If you assume two children per family for 210 slots, that’s 105 people who can be re-entered or added to the labor force, so that’s one way to do it. There are a lot of things happening locally to try to increase the size of the workforce. The Way Cooler campaign, for example, is a way to attract people from elsewhere. There’s this, there’s Career Connections, there’s Northern Valley Career Expo. Northern Valley Careers is aimed at high school students in an attempt to inform them of job opportunities in this field. Career Connections is for students who are doing the same so they can stay here instead of leaving when they get to college. So, (it is) with the aim of increasing the number of people available for the jobs that we have in this field. Their companies must have a lot of employees because they are busy and there are a lot of opportunities, but a lot of people don’t know that. These are all ways of trying to increase the workforce and help the business community and help families at the same time.

Q: Why is it important for East Grand Forks parents and child care representatives to participate?

A: Gorte: Have a say in the outcome, because if you do… I won’t say my mind and I know Brianna’s mind will cover all the options, but I know my mind won’t cover everything. So the more ideas we can get from a wider base of people, the more opportunity we have to do something that really makes a difference.

Q: What are the main childcare issues that parents face?

A: Brianna Feil: I have a three year old and now a one year old. But, my son was born last April, then when I came back to work around June, and I had him in our center (in) July, August (and) September. Well, by the time college classes resumed, a lot of their staff were either back in school, or some had military transfer orders, or maybe they had graduated college and that they might have left the area or whatever the case might have gone into their field of study, but they didn’t have enough staff. And because the ratio of infants to educators was one to four, our centre, along with many other centers struggling with this, closed their infant wards, which is the highest need in our region and the most difficult to find, and then I got a place, then I had 17 weeks without daycare. I was grateful that my boss and my employer and everyone (were) willing to work with me, but not everyone has that option. And so, if it boiled down to that, does that mean a parent is leaving the workforce? My mom helped out a ton, so grandma came to the rescue, but it’s extremely stressful as a parent, and being an effective and efficient employee is tough.

Q: How are child care companies trying to bridge the gap between themselves and parents?

A: Gorte: They try to make their situation available. You’ve heard Brianna talk about reserving places for existing families growing up in their own centers so they can serve. They know they need to add people, (and) they know they need to add space. They’re limited by how many people they can have in a facility, so part of what’s come out of this whole town hall thing is how do you create additional spaces as well, so there can be additional facilities with the caps that are there for the size of certain facilities. One of them is the pod system where you can have up to four family centers, for example, co-located in a building where they can share some of the facilities, like cooking facilities so that’s a way to increase availability while reducing the cost per child.

Q: Is there enough free space for new child care providers in East Grand Forks to meet the need?

A: Gorte: It was one of the goals that was to link the spaces, and we are looking to see if we can find at least 100 spaces of land and facilities that can accommodate at least 100 spaces, which is only the half the need, but it’s a start. It’s our goal over the next few months to find that and then allow people to enter the spaces and enjoy them. So that’s something we’re working on.

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