Posted 6/17/14 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
The final piece of the financial package for Wolf Pup Village, a new 190-child daycare facility that will open in Watford City was formally announced last week. And the announcement that Wolf Pup Village would be receiving a $2 million USDA loan couldn’t have come at a better time according to Katie Walters, who is coordinating the project.
“We’ve been going through the application process since last February,” states Walters. “One of the requirements for the zero percent loan is that a local utility cooperative be the sponsor of the loan.”
And because the cooperative is required to carry the debt on its books, Walters says it is something that not all cooperatives want to do.
“Reservation Telephone Cooperative really stepped up and committed to the loan,” states Walters. “It’s incredible and will really help us be able to keep our rates as low as possible.”
According to Walters, the cost to construct and equip the new Wolf Pup Daycare, a 16,000-square foot facility, will be $4.5 million.
“We were really pretty heavily dependent on receiving the USDA loan,” states Walters. “It was a very critical component to the project, and without that loan, the daycare project wouldn’t have been possible.”
According to Jasper Schneider, USDA Rural Development state director, the growth in jobs and population in Watford City, because of the oil development, has created a huge shortage of daycare facilities in the community.
“There is a child care shortage across the state. But it is particularly evident in western North Dakota, which is experiencing a great population influx,” said Schneider. “This project will provide much needed services as daycare facilities in Watford City are at maximum capacity.”
According to Walters, Wolf Pup Village will accommodate 190 children, ages 6 weeks to 12 years of age. In addition, the entire upper floor will be dedicated to preschool classrooms. When the project is complete, the center plans to hire at least 40 full-time employees and will have longer hours to better serve those who work shifts in the oil patch.
“At this point, thanks to the USDA loan, this is a paid for building,” states Walters. “We’re hoping that in 10 years, half of the debt on this building will be gone and then we will only have one loan for another 10 years.
And according to Walters, because of the USDA loan, as well as other donations that the Wolf Pup Daycare has received, rates have now been set at $4.90 per hour per child for the next year.
“We tried hard to stay close to the state’s average rate of $4.16 per hour,” states Walters. “But the hard part is that we have to pay our employees close to oilfield wages, which most of the state doesn’t have to do. And we have to cover our operating expenses which are projected at $155,000 per month.”
While Walters is excited for the opening of Wolf Pup Daycare this August, she says that more daycare is needed in the community.
“Wolf Pup Daycare will have the largest capacity of any daycare facility in North Dakota,” states Walters. “But we are only scratching the surface of the daycare needs here.”
Walters says that Childcare Aware is estimating that there are 1,000 children that need daycare in McKenzie County.