Hazen child care center celebrates co-op month

The child care center's unique business model as a membership nonprofit is guided by the seven cooperative principles and continues to find inspiration within them, said Erin Huntimer, ECCCC board president and Basin Electric project coordinations representative.
ECCCC teacher Amelia Potter enjoys learning with her students.

ECCCC teacher Amelia Potter enjoys the play-based learning offered at ECCCC's New Bethel Center in Hazen.  

One year ago, the community values embedded in the cooperative business model gave rise to an organization that provides a critical service to families in Mercer County. Energy Capital Cooperative Child Care (ECCCC) was incorporated on Oct. 7, 2016, as a nonprofit corporation, and celebrates the first anniversary of its founding during National Cooperative Month.

ECCCC’s unique business model as a membership nonprofit is guided by the seven cooperative principles and continues to find inspiration within them, said Erin Huntimer, ECCCC board president and Basin Electric project coordinations representative.

ECCCC’s first child care center, the New Bethel Center in Hazen, ND, opened its doors on May 30, 2017, after eight area employers joined together in the spirit of cooperation with the goal of helping remedy a major problem in Mercer County –lack of childcare. These partners include: Basin Electric/Dakota Gasification Company; Sakakawea Medical Center; North American Coal Corporation, representing The Coteau Properties Company and Coyote Creek Mining Company; Union State Bank; Knife River Care Center; Coal Country Community Health Centers; Coyote Station; and Hazen Public Schools.

In less than one year, the partners formed the organization, which owns and operates the child care facility, named a board of directors, hired a program director, and purchased and renovated a building, the former New Bethel Congregational Church, which held its last service last fall and which the center is named for.

ECCCC’s New Bethel Center is a licensed child care center with the capacity of 77 children ages infant to 12 years. It offers extended hours of operation to accommodate shift-working parents, and the families whose children attend the center and the businesses who support it are its members, determining the center’s strategic direction and educational offerings.

“The volunteer spirit that brought this project to fruition is remarkable,” Huntimer said. “Now that the child care center is up and running, it can serve as a model for other communities in North Dakota that are experiencing child care shortages.”

For more information on ECCCC, contact director Dana Santini at 701-748-3838 or visit www.energycapitalcooperative.com.

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