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North Dakota: The Economic Impact: Child Care in North Dakota

Project status

Completed July, 2004

Lead Agency

North Dakota KIDS COUNT
IACC 424
North Dakota State University
Fargo, North Dakota 58105

Contact Person

Richard Rathge, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
ND State Data Center
Executive Dir., NDKids’s Count!
ND State Univ.
701/ 231-8621;701/ 231-9730 (fax)
Barb Arnold-Tengesdal
Voices for North Dakota's Children


  • Number of Establishments
  • Child Care Labor Force
  • Children Served
  • Gross Receipts
  • Multiplier Effects on Local Economy
  • Governmental Transfers / Subsidies


  • Long Report (15+ Pages)

Case Study

Case Study: North Dakota
"The Economic Impact of Child Care in North Dakota"

Date of Study Completion: September, 2004



The report was sponsored by Kids Count North Dakota. Advice for the report was provided by the state child care resource and referral (CCR&R) agencies, the Head Start Collaboration Director, and representatives of the state Departments of Human Services and Public Instruction.


North Dakota CCR&R agencies were interested in quantifying the economic contribution that the child care industry makes to the state. They also wanted to have an advocacy tool that spoke to state legislators and other policy makers in an economic context. To this end, they reached out to the research staff at Kids Count, and requested that they conduct an economic impact study. The Cornell University Linking Economic Development and Child Care Project conducted the economic impact analysis.

The Study:

Sector Definition

The study included regulated child care centers and family child care homes, preschools, Head Start and before/after school care in its definition of child care, including programs operated by public schools. However, the study was limited to only those programs that were licensed by the state of North Dakota.

Data Analysis

Measurement* North Dakota
Number of Establishments 1,630
Child Care Labor Force 6,000
Children Served 27,679
Gross Receipts $123 million
Number of Parents with Children in Paid Care  
Multiplier Effects on Local Economy X
Governmental Transfers / Subsidies X
Tax Receipts / Fiscal Impact  

*Not all studies included the same components making it difficult to compare the numbers provided in this chart with those of other studies. In its definition of the number of establishments, this study included licensed and regulated center and family care, including Head Start, school-age child care, and pre-k in public schools. In its definition of gross receipts, this study included provider charges (parent fees and vouchers in lieu of parent fees) and government funded programs (Head Start, UPK) and did not include provider subsidies (quality dollars, Child and Adult Care Food Programs).

In addition to analyzing the types of care utilized by North Dakota parents, the study looked at the affordability of child care by reporting the price of licensed child care in the state by age of child and by type of care. The report also included data on child care staff wages, which were compared to other early childhood education professions, national averages and other professions in North Dakota. The team used input/output analysis conducted by Cornell University to determine the multiplier effects of the child care industry.

Unique Findings

The study found that 71% of children under six years of age in two parent households had two employed parents and 78% of children in single parent households had a parent who worked. The study also found that government funded child care program subsidies resulted in $42.8 million in revenues to the State.


Organizational Change and Outreach

A state-wide campaign was coordinated to publicize the report. This included sending press releases to every media outlet in the state, having local representatives ready for press interviews, and delivering the report to every legislator in the state.


The report contains no specific policy recommendations. It includes, however, a number of action strategies that could be taken by businesses, child care advocates and the government to address the needs of the child care industry. Richard Rathge, Principle Investigator on the report, believes that more specific policy recommendations will occur, over time, from the partnerships with economic developers and the business community that have begun to grow as a result of this research.

Interview with:
Richard Rathge, Executive Director
North Dakota KIDS COUNT!
August 10, 2004


Download report