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Small business center to start child care start-up resource

April Gress

From the moment she had her first child, April Gress knew she wanted to open a day care.

"I started three years ago and I just started getting kids, because you can have up to five kids without being licensed, so I was slowly working on the licensing," the Dickinson mom said.

But she gave up opening a licensed home facility after shuffling through the paperwork and decided to be an unlicensed provider instead.

This spring she decided to wade through the paperwork once more and become licensed. She didn't find all the work hard, just tedious.

"It wasn't hard," Gress said. "It was time consuming, but it wasn't hard at all."

Gress officially opened her home as a day care in April.

The North Dakota Small Business Development Center hopes to make it a bit easier for potential child care providers to get set up. It hopes to create a website guiding people setting up day care businesses through the process of becoming a business and a licensed provider in the state.

"Right now they just have to go so many places, we would like to pull all of those existing resources together so that it's easy for somebody who just wants to take care of kids to do these business aspects," said Veronica Zietz, NDSBDC business advisor.

To navigate the system alone can be hectic and tedious at best, Zietz said when addressing the Vision West Consortium

on Wednesday.

"There are so many different agencies and points of entry that we really need to have a one-stop shop," Zietz said. "You might get your licensing from your county social services office, but then the food program is administered through a different agency and you still have to register your business with the department of state. There's a lot of different agencies and there's really not one place that can do it all for you."

The process can be daunting for the type of person drawn to child care, said Carie Boster of the Dunn County Jobs Development Authority.

"By and large, men and women who go into the child care industry are caring and nurturers. They're not people who like to fill out forms," Boster said. "But that's the first thing we ask them to do -- fill out forms and fill them out in multiplication."

The idea of the website piqued Gress' interest.

"It would be nice to have all the applications in one place instead of calling everybody up," Gress said.

The Vision West ND Consortium unanimously voted to grant the NDSBDC nearly $10,000, adding to another $10,000 of funding it had already obtained, to create the resource for potential child care providers. The project is part of a greater effort between Child Care Resource and Referral, a statewide nonprofit child care resource, and other community leaders throughout western North Dakota.

"It's definitely a great opportunity for anybody interested in child care to work together to try and simplify and consolidate the process so that we can offer stronger services in the child care industry here in North Dakota," Zietz said.

The NDSBDC plans to have the resources up and running in about seven months, according to the application submitted to Vision West ND.

Anyone with an interest in providing child care should go for it, Gress said.

"It sounds really tedious and there's lots of stuff to do," Gress said. "Put out flyers, once you get your first kid everything kind of just starts going."

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.  
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