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Kidz Ark Day Care moves from Sidney, Mont., to Dickinson

Press Photo by Katherine Grandstrand Dawn Thiel plays with some of the children at her mother-in-law's day care on Friday. Betty Njos first started a Kidz Ark in 2011 in her hometown of Sidney, Mont., but moved her business when she moved to Dickinson in October.

When Betty Njos moved to Dickinson in October, she brought her day care, Kidz Ark, with her.

"The mothers can't work because there's no day care," she said. "I've had mothers say, 'Well, I guess I'll just stay home,' because they can't get day care."

The grandmother from Sidney, Mont., moved to Dickinson to be closer to family. Her daughter-in-law, Dawn Thiel, helps when she's not teaching at Head Start.

Njos has remodeled the house she bought to be up to day care standards, taking out a wall to open up the living room and kitchen and putting in new kitchen counters and emergency lighting. Her next big project is putting egress windows in her basement so she can take in foster children.

"It takes a high level of energy to keep up with these children," she said.

Njos jokes about her day care being her retirement business.

"Usually you move from -- as your kids are younger -- move up and try to do something that's out of the kid age because your kids are older," Thiel said.

Njos started her day care in Montana in April of 2011.

It took a while for Kidz Ark to fill up, but Njos thinks she occupied the last open slots last week. If Thiel comes on full time, Kidz Ark will be able to add a few more children, depending on ages.

Stephanie Hanson was picking up her three girls on Friday afternoon. They had fun playing games and snapping pictures with their mom.

Her girls enjoyed going to "Betty's," she said.

North Dakota assigns more points for younger children, and each adult at a day care can only be responsible for so many points.

She's been a children's care giver for as long as she can remember.

"I have babysat from a young age and -- I don't know -- I've always just liked being around little kids so, when I had my own, I threw myself into my kids' life," Njos said. "I've always had my sister's children -- some niece or nephew that's always at my home."

She worked for a ministry called Teen Challenge which she left in 2004. At that point she began taking in foster children, which she looks forward to being licensed for in North Dakota.

Kidz Ark Day Care is located at 79 30th Ave. S.W. in Dickinson For more information call Njos at 701-483-3721.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206