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Early Childhood Iowa in Linn County looks at how lack of childcare directly impacts workforce

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 6:17 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -More than 1/3 of childcare providers in Iowa have closed in the past few years. Early Childhood Iowa in Linn County says a lack of childcare is directly impacting the state’s workforce.

”People can’t get back to work because they have to stay home with their kids, because there’s such a lack of slots,” Amy Grunewaldt explained, Director of Early Childhood Iowa in Linn County. The group shared data earlier this week showing 23% of daycare providers in Linn County have shut down in the past five years. This has a trickle effect.

“If you can imagine, you can’t have economic recovery without childcare, people can’t be at work,” Grunewaldt said.

Collins Aerospace Day Academy mainly provides childcare to Collins Aerospace workers, but opens up to others when slots become available. Executive Director Miranda Niemi told us the center could welcome another 60 kids, if they had more workers themselves.

”We get five to six phone calls a day for slots, unfortunately we’re unable to take them because I don’t have the workforce,” Niemi said.

Attracting workers for daycares is difficult when it comes to pay.

”Childcare wages are on the low end and so we need to be able to increase what we pay our staff,” Niemi explained.

With any cost, someone has to pay, and parents already pay a lot for tuition. That’s why Niemi told us fixing the problem is not as simple as raising tuition rates.

The average cost of having one kid in daycare in Iowa is already $865 a month.

“We really need state and federal funding,” Niemi said.

Early Childhood Iowa in Linn County is working with several groups to come up with ideas to address the lack of childcare.

”You know it’s really scary to know that we pay people more money to take care of our burgers than we do our children. So really looking at how can we increase those salaries for these workers,” Grunewaldt said.

The idea is, addressing childcare needs will play a role in addressing the workforce shortage so many businesses are feeling.

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