Looking for a Job? ND Has Child-Care Aid for Parents on The Hunt

Mike Moen

BISMARCK - As many parts of society return to pre-pandemic life, North Dakota officials are trying to help families displaced by the crisis. They say there's important aid on the table for parents looking for work.

Thanks to federal COVID relief, according to the Department of Human Services, families enrolled in the state's Child Care Assistance Program can get extra help that now includes having their co-payments waived until 2023. Through September 2022, the program will pay up to three months of child care while parents search for a job.

Program administrator Emily Hakanson said it could be a life-saver as families get back on their feet.

"Families that have lost their jobs, normally they wouldn't be eligible for child-care assistance, so that's one other change we've made," she said. "It's hard to go to an interview and not have child care."

She said the department wants to reach families who aren't aware they qualify for the program. The average co-pay is about $150 a month. North Dakota has received more than $25 million in Child Care and Development Funds as part of federal relief efforts.

For families still working and in need of child care, Hakanson said, their income might be down significantly from before the pandemic. In addition to the regular subsidies, she said waiving that co-pay could remove a lot of financial stress.

"Looking for rent for a two-bedroom apartment in North Dakota, that ranges from just $734 to $1,086 per month," she said. "So, when you throw those child-care costs on top of just rent, that's a huge chunk of their budget."

In North Dakota, the average child-care cost for an infant or toddler is more than $700 a month. Families already enrolled in the Child Care Assistance Program are being notified about the waiver.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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