Funding to help address the childcare crisis in North Dakota today cleared a large hurdle with Senate passage of HB 1422. The legislation, which passed the body by a vote of 38 to 9, contains $6 million to address childcare needs and improve quality throughout the state.
The childcare bill has gone through multiple changes since being introduced in early January.
Initially, HB 1422 included over $15 million for childcare stabilization grants. The North Dakota House reduced this funding to $2.1 million prior to crossover. Senator Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, successfully amended the bill in the Senate Appropriations Committee to add the additional $3.9 million in funding. The increase in funding for childcare comes in addition to Senate action which earlier removed careless language regarding the number of children per age level that are allowed in a given child care facility.
"We have stated time and time again that childcare is both an economic and family issue," Mathern said. "We need to be able to give families safe care for their kids. The funding level contained in this bill is an improvement, but more must be done for our children and their parents."
Relatedly, the North Dakota House voted down HB 1356 this morning. The bill provided for $2.6 million in early education grants. It was defeated 34-59.
HB 1422 will now be sent to the North Dakota House for consideration.