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Devils Lake to look at reopening child care center, After being closed for a year, city leaders call day care 'a serious need'

DEVILS LAKE -- Calling child care availability a critical local economic development issue, the Devils Lake City Commission is directing a local committee to draft a business plan to reopen a community child care center in a city-owned building.

DEVILS LAKE -- Calling child care availability a critical local economic development issue, the Devils Lake City Commission is directing a local committee to draft a business plan to reopen a community child care center in a city-owned building.

The downtown building has been vacant for nearly a year after the Devils Lake Kids Preschool and Child Care Center closed last March.

"There's a serious need, especially for infants," Mayor Dick Johnson said.

The city may consider hiring a director and staff for a center, he said. The committee is expected to present its report within two months.

When Devils Lake Kids closed last year, local leaders attributed it to a variety of financial issues, including hiring and retaining staff, as well as rising utility costs.

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"There's a building that's designed as a day care," Johnson said. "It was used as a day care. They couldn't make it cash flow."

The city also will investigate potential state and federal grants to help finance a center.

The mayor also said a couple of major employers in town have expressed interest in subsidizing a community-owned child care center, perhaps by providing annual grants.

"It's an economic development, quality of life issue. I think that employers have come to that understanding," Ramsey County Social Services Director Rhonda Allery said, adding child care availability has been an issue in Devils Lake and Ramsey County for most of the past decade.

"Devils Lake is in somewhat of a baby boom," she said. "There is a shortage of spots, to the point where private home day care providers cannot keep up with it."

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