- Associated Press - Sunday, December 20, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Child care providers in Bismarck and Mandan have decided not to apply for early childhood education grants designated to help low-income kids attend preschool.

Providers in each community can choose to form a coalition to apply for grant funds that go toward offsetting tuition for low-income families, hiring teachers, and providing transportation or other needs, the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1NzauMV ) reported. However, few of the providers employ teachers who have the qualifications needed to apply for the grants and are not interested in changing the way they operate in order to become eligible for the money.

The requirements for providers include a willingness to accept students of any learning ability and teachers on staff who have bachelor’s degrees.

Carmen Traeholt of the Youth Development Center at the Missouri Valley Family YMCA in Bismarck thinks the lack of interest may stem from low wages and high turnover in the child care profession.

“I can’t guarantee I’m always going to have a four-year degree person in the building,” she said. The YMCA has two on staff, but Traeholt said they tend to leave for openings at Bismarck’s elementary schools where they will make more money.

Bismarck Superintendent Tamara Uselman invited the 177 known early childhood providers within the boundary of the school district to a meeting last month.

Nine came, and they were enthusiastic about collaborating to apply for grant money, Traeholt said. But as Uselman outlined the requirements for the grants, the atmosphere changed.

“A lot sat and listened, and a few got up and left the meeting,” Traeholt said. “They knew it wasn’t going to work.”

Traeholt said she wants legislators to visit child care providers to gain a better understanding of the issues they face, particularly in hiring qualified teachers.

Though providers in Bismarck and Mandan do not plan to apply for grants, rural communities, such as Scranton and Rugby, have hopped on board.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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