Rep. Jessica Haak, D-Jamestown, hosted a forum Tuesday to find solutions. More than 30 people attended.

"I've been looking since March for my 2-year-old and there is just not enough choice," said Jen Kross, who attended the meeting. "People have to stay at their provider regardless if it is good for the child or not, it's lack of diversity."

David Klein of the Stutsman County Housing Authority said he has been working with developers to address the housing need and that child care has been a part of that discussion. "The development process is different now, it used to be developers put in housing around schools, now they put in housing around child care availability," Klein said.

Becky Thatcher-Keller, executive director of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce, suggested that child care is a growing concern for businesses and employers.

"Businesses can't find employees, the employees they do find can't find housing and if they do find housing they can't find child care," Thatcher-Keller said. "It's a good problem to have, but I'm happy we're having a discussion to find solutions and business run child care facilities might be a good idea."

Child care providers also attended including Linda Barnick, who has provided child care for more than 20 years. "People don't treat child care providers like a real business and over 85 to 90 percent of our cost is to pay for staff who often earn minimum wage to run the facility," Barnick said.

Other issues identified include:

* Cost of day care: The average cost of daycare is more than $6,000 per child, per year.

* Stutsman County has more than 600 open positions, according to Job Service North Dakota. Once those positions are filled, who will care for the children?

* Wages for day care employees: Day cares can't offer wages high enough to compete with big box and chain stores

* Training: Day care providers require many hats including nurturer and care provider for children, but they need business skills.

Haak said that she hopes to continue the dialogue around the issue.

"This is a conversation that needs to continue and we need to find real solutions with everyone, businesses, providers and parents, at the table," she said.

Haak is hosting another child care forum from noon to 1:30 p.m. Monday at the Gladstone Inn & Suites.

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