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The need for child care

Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is a success.”

In the recent needs assessment, the Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Board heard loud and clear that parents were struggling to find child care. When 76 percent of households have both parents working, the public knows that children need to be cared for while parents have to work. Iowa is facing a child care desert, a situation in which there are not enough child care spaces for the number of children needing care.

Research shows that child care, employment and economic development go hand-in-hand. If child care is not available, employees can’t go to work and then employers lose money when productivity is down. Likewise, if we want to recruit new families into communities, one of the top priorities is finding child care.

The message today is clear…people need to work together to expand child care. One organization, one program, one person cannot take this on alone. People need your help. Let’s think outside the box to find ways to respond to this crisis.

If you have or know a home child care provider, ask if they are registered. Registration helps increase the number of children in their care at one time. If they are not, encourage them to do so. Also, if you want a rewarding career in child care, consider becoming a home-based provider or working for a child care center in your community. The Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Board offers a variety of financial incentives for your participation with the Child Care Resource and Referral Consultant. Support is also available in Health and Safety from the MICA Child Care Nurse Consultant.

Ask your child care provider if they participate in the food program, Quality Rating System or the TEACH program. Either opportunity provides financial incentives for participating. If your provider is not, encourage them to participate.

Ask your employer what they do that supports child care and parents in the workforce. This can include flexible scheduling, flexible spending account, financially support a local child care center, subsidize child care costs and more.

Speak with your school district and ask them to support child care through expansion. Child care should be seen as a recruitment and retention effort. Other area school districts have had large success with this.

Contact your legislators and ask them for their support in child care. Child care was mentioned as a top priority in the Iowa Legislature this year.

The public can all do a small part to raise awareness and increase child care capacity. Let’s work together to ensure success in child care expansion.

For more information on the services listed here, visit: www.iowarivervalleyeca.com/our-providers.html

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Carrie Kube is a director for the Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Board.