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Plain Talk: Burgum administration is planning a big proposal for child care says Lt. Gov.

It will be "something different from what you usually see from our administration," Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford said on this issue of Plain Talk.

Lt. Governor Brent Sanford
Lt. Governor Brent Sanford speaks at the groundbreaking for the NDSCS Career Innovation Center in Fargo.
Chris Flynn / The Forum
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MINOT, N.D. — Gov. Doug Burgum's administration is on the path to proposing some very significant policy to address North Dakota's child care process in the upcoming legislative session. It will be "something different from what you usually see from our administration," Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford said on this issue of Plain Talk.

Child care has been talked about as an urgent public policy need for, well, about a generation now, most recently at a Chamber of Commerce event in Fargo, yet there hasn't been much in the way of substantial progress on the issue.

Part of the problem is politics. "Our legislator's eyes glass over" when this issue gets brought up in the context of early childhood education. "They'll say 'we don't want to back the school bus up to the maternity ward'," Sanford says.

He thinks a more persuasive approach will be to talk about the need for child care policy in the context of the economy. Ensuring access to affordable child care "is what we have to do to retain and recruit," Sanford says, especially because the private sector can't seem to provide that.

"The day care model is uneconomic," Sanford argues. "It doesn't work." In fact, he says, it only works to the extent it is now because of low-wage workers. He pointed out that ratio policies, which dictate the number of children per day care worker a facility can have, were "built when we still had minimum wage workers. Who still has minimum wage workers?"

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Sanford says the administration is still working on a policy proposal, but that it may include revenue from the state's Legacy fund to make things work.

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Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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