- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Three big Bismarck-based businesses have come up with a unique way to address a child care crunch in the region - partner with the YMCA on a new facility.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Sanford Health and CHI St. Alexius Health will get designated spots for their employees in the center being built in the former Rasmussen College building, according to The Bismarck Tribune and KXMB-TV.

The YMCA currently serves 200 infants and preschoolers and about 60 older children in after-school programs, but there’s another 400 children on a waiting list.

“We have a shared commitment to invest in the potential of the little people,” said Bill Bauman, executive director and CEO of the Missouri Valley YMCA. “This will increase the (number of) kids we are giving daily care to.”

The shortage of day care has increased in the past few years with the western oil boom, according to YMCA Youth Development Center Director Carmen Traeholt.

In Burleigh County in 2014, the number of children in need of child care was estimated at 11,750, but there were only 4,412 licensed child care programs, according to the group Child Care Aware North Dakota.

The new 18,000-square-foot center will accommodate 240 children, with 200 spots designated for employees of the three partners. Renovation will begin in the fall, with the facility scheduled to open in February. The center will provide 90 new jobs.

“Every working parent strives to achieve a balance,” said Kurt Schley, president of CHI St. Alexius. “A lack of child care can affect that balance. We see this going hand-in-hand with our mission to promote a healthier community.”

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