Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Join us for A Place at the Table - 5:30 on May 9th at the Grand Theater

NDESPA and partners will host a viewing of A Place at the Table on May 9th at 5:30 at the Grand Theater in Bismarck. Join us for the film and a short discussion after.

A Place At The Table - One Nation. Underfed.
Fifty million people in the U.S.—one in four children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine the issue of hunger in America through the lens of three people struggling with food insecurity: Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two kids; Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her and has trouble concentrating in school; and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health issues are exacerbated by the largely empty calories her hardworking mother can afford.

Ultimately, A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and that it could be solved once and for all, if the American public decides — as they have in the past — that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all.

Child Care Stabilization Passes the Legislature

Today the North Dakota House passed 1422 by a vote of 86-7 and the Senate followed by passing it unanimously. The bill raises eligibility for child care subsidies to 85% of State Median Income. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature. If the Governor signs the bill (which is expected), the action will make child care incredibly affordable for North Dakotans.


The change allows a single parent of two children to receive child care subsidies with an income of up to $60,000/year.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Will North Dakota Help with the Child Care Crisis?

The state legislature is still contemplating providing much needed financial support to the child care industry through HB 1422. But will they do it?
1422 will go to conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions. Contact the conference committee members to insist they accede to the Senate version with the current funding level.
Representative Kylie Oversen: koversen@nd.gov
Representative Roscoe Streyle: rstreyle@nd.gov
Representative Robin Weisz: rweisz@nd.gov
Senator Howard Anderson: hcanderson@nd.gov
Senator Tyler Axness: taxness@nd.gov
Senator Judy Lee: jlee@nd.gov

The Senate has voted to provide $6million to shore up the industry. It is a good start, but pressure is needed to keep that funding in place.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Child Care & Early Childhood Education

Cross posted with permission from Jessica's Jaunts.

on March 28, 2013
I have many passions. One of them that is close to the top of the list is child care and early childhood education. I don’t have children of my own. What I do have is a long work history of taking care of children. I taught swimming lessons for four summers and worked with students at the Anne Carlsen Center for nearly five years. I also get to see Tony’s girls and my nephew not nearly enough.

the kids

Through my job at North Dakota Farmers Union I have the pleasure of traveling across this great state. A common theme throughout the state is the need for affordable child care and early childhood education for all working families. It was a top concern at ND 2020 and ND 2.0 events. Rural communities throughout the state are in desperate need of child care. According to the latest data, North Dakota is only meeting 38% of the needs of child care demands, which means only 38% of the children who are at the age and need child care services are able to be placed in facilities. It has gotten to the point where economic development organization are saying child care needs are a top priority for economic development.

So what are we doing about this problem? The answer appears to be little is being done. My bill to remove nearly 1,000 low-income and at risk children from Head Start waiting lists and get them into a facility that would enhance their learning skills and abilities was turned into a study.

HB 1422 was a  bill that would have appropriated $15 million to provide assistance to stabilize child care operations, recruit and retain a qualified workforce, and advance quality child care practices through the implementation. This bill was stripped to $2 million to assist with technical assistance. It passed the House.

Today in the House we voted on SB 2244. This bill would have appropriated $300,000 to for early childhood services to provide assistance to special needs providers, who currently receive very limited funding. It would also have appropriated $400,000 to provide child care for children with disabilities or developmental delays and training for child care providers. In the House Education committee, all of the funds were removed and the bill was turned into a study. The study passed the House.

Another bill is SB 2229. This bill allows a school district to establish an early childhood education program, which would be a program if the local school decided they wanted to provide it. The terms would be up to the local school whether it’s all students, low-income, etc.  Support for that program could have come from four different revenues. The first was local tax revenues besides the necessary funds to support K-12 programs, state money appropriated for the program, federal funds for the program or gifts and grants. The amount put aside from the state was originally $4.6 million for the next two years. All of that money was stripped in the House Education committee, so there will be no matching funds.

Now the House did pass HB 1135 which sets aside $100,000 to provide dental care services, treatment, prevention and education to low-income students. This is great. However, this does not even begin to address the crisis that is happening all over the state.

With so many wonderful options, it is very frustrating to see many efforts to address this issue dismissed. I believe this should be a top priority, along with other infrastructure needs.

Very few bills remain, none regarding this issue.  It is important to continue to push. Whether we try to get money into the Human Services budget, the DPI budget or amend a bill to include child care and early childhood. It is important to keep working on this critical issue that so directly affects the future of North Dakota.