Posted 10/20/15 (Tue)
By Sydney Glasoe Caraballo
Two little boys bounce by on “bucking broncos” (red bouncy balls) and squeal as they hold on with one hand each while their free hands daringly wave in the air. They barely dodge a girl tossing her teddy bear in the air as they tumble over their balls and giggle, trying to sprawl out on the floor.
The current gym is crowded with kids, but Crosby Kids Daycare board members plan to break ground this fall for a facility that will give children more playful space, and give more families a chance to enroll their children in a state-of-the-art daycare facility.
The board will remove the former bowling alley on 5th Avenue late this fall in order to begin construction at the site in spring. The board plans to work with Ventana Design and Development of Williston to construct the 8,600 square-foot steel building.
“Our ultimate goal is to be debt-free when the final nail is hammered,” daycare board member Traci Lund said.
Economic Development Director KayCee Lindsey said the need for a new and larger daycare facility is based on data. There are more than 140 children ages newborn to five in Divide County who potentially require childcare; 89 percent of their parents are in the labor force, according to ChildCare Aware of North Dakota.
The current daycare has a waiting list of approximately 30 children because it does not have enough legal square footage per child to house them. The new facility will accommodate 96 children – almost double the amount in the current daycare.
The board, which has raised more than $800,000 in donations, grants and a pending commitment from the ND Dept. of Commerce, has approximately $200,000 more to raise in order to secure full funding of the facility.
“The community support has been wonderful and amazing,” Lund said.
She mentions John Andrist, who recently donated $100,000 to the project, and New Century Ag, which donated the property site. She is also grateful for financial support from the city council and the economic development council.
Representatives also met Tuesday with county commissioners to find out the extent of in-kind contribution they can make, such as helping with the building teardown.
Lindsey said when people drive into Crosby from the west, they will see the new splash pad, park and pool, complimented by a well-planned daycare structure -- a welcoming introduction for potential new families, emphasizing to all visitors that Crosby is committed to its children.
“It shows that we invest in the future of our community, and what better way than starting with your little ones?” she asked.
Lindsey said she is impressed with the “eager and active” board, which continues to apply for grants, with several pending approval now.
Several community fundraisers are also in the works:
Funds will flow through the St. Luke’s Community Foundation, allowing donations to be claimed as a tax deduction.
Lindsey said the new daycare will allow more families to pursue career options and financial stability, but also provide an economic growth opportunity for the community.
“We want new entrepreneurs and business owners to have the ability to raise their family here,” Lindsey said.
She said several people who work in Crosby currently use in-home caregivers in Wildrose and Lignite because no daycare openings are available in Crosby.
“We need to alleviate that inconvenience so families want to work here and live here,” Lindsey said.
Other families are getting by on one income because moms don’t have daycare.
“A lot of families need two incomes to make ends meet,” says Lund. “It’s unfair to not have that option to go into the workforce.”
Lindsey said the oil slowdown hasn’t reduced potential demand for childcare. Elementary school enrollment peaked at 224 last year, but this year’s total of 211 still far surpasses the 130 enrolled in 2009, Lindsey said.
Births in the county have also risen sharply, from 19 births in 2009 to 33 in 2013, according to the Kids Count Data Center.
Daycare director Carrie Marschner said the new facility will not only accommodate more children, but also provide a better daily experience for those children.
“The benefit of more light and space makes a big difference,” Marschner said. “We will be able to separate the age groups and encourage more age-specific play and educational activities.”