QUINCY (WGEM) – A push from Iowa governor Kim Reynolds to expand childcare offerings is getting positive reaction from those in Lee County.
The state announced their Child Care Business Incentive Grant Program will provide $25 million in grants, $20 million for supporting local childcare infrastructure investments and $5 million to support arrangements between employers and child care facilities to expand and reserve child care slots.
Lee County officials said the program is a step in the right direction as a lack of childcare is one of the biggest issues facing local families.
Fort Madison YMCA CEO Ryan Wilson said the main problem he see’s is the lack of staff at facilities.
He said Iowa law states there has to be a certain number of staff members for every child, and facilities just don’t have the staff to take in more kids.
He said another difficulty is finding dedicated staff who can properly take care of the children.
“We’re kind of picky on who we hire and you know the quality of people,” Wilson said. “Are they interactive? Are they personable? Are they able to actually sit down and play with the kids or not? That’s a big thing. Childcare is more of a passion and career as opposed to a job.”
Wilson said the grants could help parents find quality facilities for their child.
Lee County Health Department Community Outreach and Development Project coordinator Breanna Kramer said the program could also lead to more people finding work.
She said they’ve been doing a joint study with other organizations exploring the child care need in Lee County and they’ve found the lack of childcare has been a key struggle for parents looking for work, as not a lot of businesses offer on-site childcare.
But she said lately they’ve been noticing businesses expressing interest and inquiring about childcare for their employees.
“I think, especially larger employers, are starting to think more about, ‘What benefits can we provide to get a stable work force that sets us apart from other people?”’ Kramer said.
Kramer said not only is childcare hard to find, it can also be expensive. Wilson said childcare for one child could cost a parent $150 every week.
Kramer said if there’s more on site childcare, that could attract more workers to the area and save them money as well.
Kramer said they’re still gathering data for the rural childcare study. They’re looking to get perspectives from businesses, child care providers, parents and caregivers, and they encourage anyone in the Lee County area to fill it out so they can use the data to effectively address and target the need for child care.
Copyright 2022 WGEM. All rights reserved.