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5 communities, including Killdeer, awarded day care grants

BISMARCK -- State officials awarded $625,000 in grants Thursday to help five western North Dakota communities address their child care shortage.

The Board of University and School Lands approved $125,000 each for Killdeer, Watford City, Williston, Ray and Crosby to increase child care capacity.

Killdeer and Crosby are each planning to buy a modular child care facility that can accommodate up to 18 children, while Watford City is planning to build a facility for 70 children.

The funding for Ray will help create day care space within the local school. Williston has several local applications requesting money, and the city will need to determine how to allocate its share of funding.

The state money for the projects comes from tax revenue paid to the state by the oil and gas industry and, therefore, is only available to political subdivisions.

The grants can be used to establish new community-owned modular childcare facilities, expand an existing publicly owned early childhood facility or build a new public early childhood facility.

Political subdivisions are required to provide matching funds under the terms of the grant.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he was sorry they couldn't provide more funding. The Land Board received 23 applications from western North Dakota political subdivisions asking for $2 million in grants.

"You look at them, and you just have a really strong sense of the need out there and the demand," he said.

The awarding of the grants comes two months after Dalrymple asked the Land Board to consider creating a child care grant pilot program.

The state's $135 million energy impact grant program has helped other infrastructure needs in western North Dakota, but the "tremendous need" for day care services hasn't been addressed, Dalrymple said.

The increased population, housing shortage and soaring cost of commercial space have contributed to the shortage of day care in western North Dakota.

See Friday's Press for more on this story.