Opportunities to explore expand for North Dakota students
College or bust is far from the only option for North Dakota’s high school students. Across the state, students are finding career pathways in trades and technical fields, opportunities that pay surprisingly well and aren’t bogged down with school loan debt. The idea is that enhancing vocational and technical programs in high schools will fill the local workforce, provide paths forward for students, and retain younger people in their local communities.
Foster family burnout, complexity of care addressed with new program
About half of all foster parents in the nation quit after a year, and only about a quarter make it past a second. The Lily Initiative, working within Evangel Assembly of God in Bismarck, aims to address burnout by supporting foster families and encouraging others to become foster parents. The program started with 15 foster families in 2021 and has now grown to 32 families. Meanwhile, new legislation aims to make it easier to keep children with extended family, providing assistance that helps children stay in a more familiar environment and, hopefully, prevent some of the trauma that otherwise might occur.
Aims to boost literacy, cultivate newspaper habit
Hopes are, by the end of 2023, the paper could reach most schools in the state, according to Cecile Wehrman, owner of Journal Publishing in Crosby, which publishes the Journal of Crosby and Tioga Tribune. Wehrman has spearheaded the effort since last May. The main aim is boosting declining student literacy, Wehrman said, through something fun and accessible to elementary school kids. Kid Scoop News includes a range of reading, science, animal knowledge, math, crossword puzzles and games, activities and colorful graphics in each issue.
Community leaders aim to catch influx of new Americans
Directors of CATCH, Communities Acting Together for Change and Hope, would like to position their towns to fill some of the 40,000 open jobs in North Dakota. That number – nearing the entire population of Minot – is both an opportunity and an obstacle for businesses that hope to expand and flourish. They want families, particularly families of legal immigrants who can fill those jobs, buy homes and make their towns vibrant again.
Burnout hits child protection and family services workers
Investigating allegations of child abuse or neglect is hardly ever a simple job. Parents suspected of real cases of abuse often dodge child protective services workers when they knock on the door, state social workers say. Parents change residences, skip town, jump borders, and try to become invisible. Tracking them down and protecting the welfare of children in the state takes time and boots on the ground.
Elderly care facilities face downsizing, closure if workforce challenges unmet
An average of three long-term care facilities in North Dakota have closed or downsized annually since 2020 and that trend appears set to continue unless the state can quickly address the lack of nurses, nursing assistants and the expense of contracting travel nurses, those in the field say. Currently, 90 percent of long-term care facilities in the state must rely on contract nursing staff to meet their needs, according to data provided by the North Dakota Long Term Care Association (NDLTCA). Expensive travel nurses eat up budgets that could be spent on facility upgrades, pay and bonuses for permanent staff, and other policies to attract full-time workers.
Campaign reignited to attract workers to state
Travis High, now a technician at ProIT in Minot, was the first of nine individuals or families to emerge through the pipeline of the state’s Find the Good Life campaign since the program relaunched with state funding in mid-2022. Gov. Doug Burgum proposed $25 million to further build out the program in the coming two years as one way to address the state’s workforce shortage. Job Service North Dakota estimates 40,000 openings in the state with at least 4,300 of those being unfilled health care positions.
Communities rely on local champions to attract workers
A relaunched effort to attract workers and families to settle in North Dakota aims to rely on local “community champions” to act as connectors between newcomers and local employment. Gov. Doug Burgum’s proposed funding of $25 million for the Find the Good Life campaign – revamped this past June – would focus on marketing North Dakota’s quality of life and initiatives such as bringing potential residents to communities across the state or helping businesses to entice them.
Talk leading to action in addressing mental, behavioral health in North Dakota
Peers across the state are increasingly filling gaps in a healthcare system struggling to keep up, especially in underserved rural areas, where staffing and facility shortages are most intensely felt.
Recent tragedies highlight rural mental health, addiction crisis
Signs of trouble should have been obvious long before Robert Bracken shot his son Justin, his older brother Richard, his employer Doug Dulmage, and finally, himself, with a .357 revolver on Aug. 29, 2022. With an unthinkable scene of four dead bodies in a blue-skied North Dakota grain field, it appeared an act fueled by towering instability had taken place. A formal investigation into the incident continues, leaving the ultimate motive and circumstances unclear. It was one of two tragedies late this summer that illuminate the critical need to address mental health and substance abuse problems across the state.