Devils Lake childcare center struggling for funding

Joe Mellenbruch Journal Reporter

Whether it be a single mom with three kids or a married couple with seven, the reality is this: child care is an essential service for those with children to raise in this town, one that is currently in high demand.

So why is the Devils Lake  Kids Preschool and Child Care Center struggling to keep its head above water?

This question was addressed Tuesday night as parents, employees and social service representatives gathered to discuss the dwindling state of the center’s finances.

Blake Crosby, who manages the business center for North Dakota Child Care Resource and Referral, was present at the meeting to offer advice to parents and administrators on how to get the center back on track.

While he and others were there for support and guidance, his message was clear: At the end of the day, child care is a business, and a steady cash flow would be needed to keep the facility afloat.

But Crosby is optimistic.

“There’s nothing I’ve seen in this situation that is an insurmountable barrier,” he said. “This can be done. It just needs to be done, and it needs to be done now.”

Overwhelming debt and an inability to maintain staff stability has been among the chief concerns in the past for those involved with the facility, but the problem that seems to trump all others is the center’s administrative board, or lack thereof.

The center requires a five-person board if it is to maintain financial stability. Currently, the only voting board member still standing is city commissioner Dale Robbins, who is currently listed as the board’s vice president. All others have either resigned or simply abandoned their duties to the facility.

Michelle Althoff, the center’s current director, alluded to her struggle in having to run the facility without an established board. Althoff will resign her post this Friday due to her family moving out of state.

“Board members were frustrating,” she said. “In the past, when I would ask them about something, there was confusion over what the board was responsible for, and because of that, nothing got done.”

This was perhaps the most-discussed issue at the meeting Tuesday night, and the consensus among all those present seemed to be that a committed board would be needed to keep the center afloat.

Robbins will be collecting candidates to fill the center’s open board positions, but all interested in volunteering their services must be willing to make a serious committment. Above all, this facility needs stability in order for it to fully recover.

The center itself has potential to become abundantly successful. For now, it just needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.

“If the right people get on the board and get things rolling, this building has so much potential,” Althoff said. “We need this daycare in town. I don’t forsee it closing.”