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Child care is hard to access in Kodiak, as it is around the United States. The Sun’aq Tribe in Kodiak is trying to address the problem; Registration is now open for the tribe’s new Aluttingcut child care program. The tribe opened the program amid a rise in demand for local childcare options.
The Sun’aq Tribe in Kodiak has been developing the program for years.
April McBride is the childcare program administrator for the Sun’aq Tribe. She said there has been significant excitement for the new program.
“For the students and that younger age group- Kodiak is definitely lacking in preschools and that environment for them prior to being in the school district,” McBride said.
That’s a trend that plays out around the state. Demand exploded during the pandemic; according to state data, there were five times as many children as child care spaces in Alaska in 2020.
Sara Teel is a regional economist for the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. She authored a feature on childcare published in the department’s monthly newsletter last April. She says that the shortage comes down to cost of living and the typically low wage of child care workers.
“Kodiak, of course, and the rest of the state, has a higher cost of living. And so that does make it more difficult to bring staff in when the staff isn’t paid all that well,” Teel said.
In Kodiak, the Sun’aq Tribe is already considering expanding their child care program. According to McBride, a long term goal of the tribe is to eventually offer a language immersion program.
“We’ve got a lot going on right now with language and we opened up the language house. And you know, we’re just trying to build that capacity for the speakers and for the community,” McBride said.
McBride is referring to the Sun’aq tribe’s language immersion program for adults, meant to foster the next generation of Alutiiq language teachers.
The program at Alutiingcut is going to be taught in English, but it will explore the Alutiiq culture. The daycare is located in St. Mary’s School in Kodiak. Alutiingcut’s child care program had an open house on the 1st of July. Registration is currently open. McBride says anyone can sign up, but priority admission will go to Native families.