Energy Capital Cooperative Child Care (ECCCC)
- Need: To bring needed child care to rural Mercer County, North Dakota.
- Intervention: A nonprofit cooperative provides part-time and full-time child care.
- Results: ECCCC had 86 children at the height of its enrollment history.
Mercer County Economic Development's 2015 Housing &
Socioeconomic Assessment determined that rural Mercer
County, North Dakota, needed 291 more childcare spots to
meet demand. After this assessment was completed,
additional childcare providers closed. Since lack of
child care can deter new employees from moving to the
area and affect current employees' ability to work, eight
employers in the county formed the Energy
Capital Cooperative Child Care (ECCCC). The
cooperative business model will allow parents to be board
members who supervise the director and decide on strategy
and education. In addition, parents will have voting
The cooperative's founding partners are:
- Basin Electric Power Cooperative
- Coal Country Community Health Center
- Coyote Station
- Hazen Public Schools
- Knife River Care Center
- North American Coal Corporation
- Sakakawea Medical Center
- Union State Bank
The North Dakota Association of Rural Electric
Cooperatives' Rural Development Finance Corporation
provides technical support.
ECCCC is open Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 5:30
p.m., to help accommodate parents on shift work. Parents
can enroll their children as full-time (4+ days per week)
or part-time (3 or fewer days per week). Parents on shift
work are asked to submit their children's schedule 4
weeks early so ECCCC can coordinate with other
shift-working families' schedules.
The founding partners have guaranteed childcare spots for
their employees' children. Any remaining spots are open
to anyone in the community.
Although not licensed as a preschool, ECCCC provides a
daily educational curriculum.
The New Bethel Center opened in May 2017 in a vacated
church in Hazen. ECCCC board members hope to open another
facility in the neighboring town of Beulah. The New
Bethel Center has a capacity of 77 children (ages 0-12)
at any one time in the building.
Enrollment is currently down after a temporary closure
due to COVID-19 pandemic safety measures, but ECCCC had
86 children at the height of its enrollment history.
Mercer County is a high-income area, so grant funds are
largely unavailable to ECCCC.
Childcare funding opportunities are listed on the
Childcare licensing and fire inspection standards are
high. Have your childcare licensor and fire marshal walk
through any facilities being considered to identify
Staffing is a challenge, since the county does not have a
large labor pool for this type of work. ECCCC is able to
pay its employees a higher wage than the average salary
offered in larger communities, which can help retain
The board of directors currently is made up of people
from the founding partners. The cooperative plans to add
community supporters and parents of ECCCC attendees.
Volunteers helped remodel the church and build the
playground. Bringing in volunteers can help reduce costs
and get the community, especially parents, invested in
North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives'
Rural Development Finance Corporation is a useful
resource, with expertise in childcare start-ups.
Children and youth
Community and economic development
Community engagement and volunteerism
June 18, 2018
Date updated or reviewed
July 22, 2022
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub,
Energy Capital Cooperative Child Care (ECCCC) [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at:
[Accessed 3 October 2022]
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