Daycares in Cedar Rapids respond to bill that would allow for expanded toddler to teacher ratios

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 5:52 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Child care centers across the state may be given the option to have more children per teacher in younger classrooms under a new bill. It’s an effort to address the state’s child care crisis, as the industry sees a lack of staff as well as daycare openings.

“Our two’s is currently a one-to-six ratio and our three’s is currently one-to-eight,” explained Angela Campbell, Co-Owner at Happy Hollow Preschool and Childcare in Cedar Rapids.

House Study Bill 511 recently passed a subcommittee, advancing for further consideration. The bill would expand ratios by allowing one teacher to supervise eight 2-year-olds or ten 3-year-olds.

“I’m not in the business of warehousing children, I want to make sure they have a good quality environment,” Miranda Niemi said, Executive Director at Collins Aerospace Day Academy in Cedar Rapids.

She feels strongly that changing ratios could be unsafe and taxing on staff, even in classrooms with more than one teacher.

“It’s a lot with twelve 2-year-olds, I can’t imagine saying okay here’s four more,” Niemi explained.

But Campbell believes the flexibility could be really helpful.

“Especially with COVID and a lot of people sick calling off, it helps out in those binds where we could go up to a 1-8 in the two’s, a 1-10 in the three’s,” Campbell said.

It’s an option she believes would benefit centers far beyond the pandemic, as they could welcome more kids despite ongoing challenges finding staff.

“It’s just that flexibility to take the kids while figuring out staff,” Campbell said.

The changes would be optional, not mandatory, allowing providers to decide for themselves either way.

“We don’t have to go up, I will not,” Niemi said.

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