Working Iowa: Increased demand for services at Waypoint, Kidspoint means a need to hire more employees
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Kidspoint Learning Center and Pre-School in Cedar Rapids is looking to hire at least 20 child care teachers. It’s a division of Waypoint and just one of many areas that are facing hiring needs in the new year.
Ashlea Hemphill has been a pre-school teacher at Kidspoint for a little more than 10 years. There’s a ton of learning that happens in her classroom, from numbers to letters and Spanish. There’s even some free time to play, but this isn’t a babysitting service.
“I’m really trying to get them ready for those kindergarten skills and getting them prepped for school and making sure they are where they need to be for academics,” Hemphill said.
Kidspoint says nearly 200 kids are trying to get into this program, but, according to CEO Jaye Kennedy, there just isn’t enough staff to accommodate them all.
“We have ratios and different regulations that we need to follow,” Kennedy said. “So we are really, really in need. The community is in need of more childcare.”
Open positions include teachers and substitutes. There are also entry-level openings for assistant teachers. These types of positions allow for growth opportunities.
“You don’t have to have experience, you get on-the-job experience, which is really great. And you learn from the teacher that’s in your room,” Kennedy said. “[It’s] really helpful because if you want to move up and someday become a teacher, you are getting on-the-job training right there.”
Ashlea Hemphill says it’s easy to see the need to hire.
“You know, for some of us, who have been here, even wanting to take time off, it’s been hard,” Hemphill said. “We don’t have all the subs, or we don’t have the coverage. And we have ratios that we have to fill and we can’t just not have the teachers in here. So it is kind of difficult sometimes to find those people who want to work and work with the children.”
She says the environment is warm and inviting. It’s easy to come back every day.
“When you walk in, kids give you a hug. You know you’re doing your job, and you are loved here,” she said. “We build these relationships with the kiddos, and I think it makes it easier for them to come back every day and want to see their teachers. Those relationships are just really important here,” she said.
Her biggest piece of advice is to have patience.
“Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming,” she said. “And then you just kind of find your groove and things and you find how to make the kids laugh and, and how to engage them and want them to learn more with you.”
Waypoint’s housing services sees more people needing help
Waypoint’s critical services area is made of three main sections: a survivors’ program, services for domestic violence victims, and a coordinated entry program to help people facing a housing crisis. All of them are looking to hire more people.
“We are getting more and more grant funding because the services that we offer are so needed in the community,” Kennedy said.
That’s certainly the case for housing services.
“Pre-pandemic, we were serving about 3,000 people a year in our coordinated entry program,” she said. “Now we’re at 9,000. It’s just mushroomed in large part due to the pandemic.”
Waypoint’s Rapid Rehousing program helps people find a home of their own home. That’s where Betty Daniels comes into play. She’s been working at Waypoint for nearly 20 years. Six of those years have been as a housing specialist.
“We as housing specialists, pick numbers of people to meet with us, talk about where they’re at now, what their obstacles and challenges have been in the past, and then try to qualify them for the rapid rehousing money that we manage,” Daniels said.
But with so many people needing help, she says they’re being stretched thin.
“Because when you have a really good group of individuals, but you don’t want to stretch those individuals, you already currently have to add to the family to really address a large number of people in our community, or homelessness is a necessity,” Daniels said.
Daniels said being a housing specialist is an honest job, but you need to have an open heart in order to succeed.
“I think you have to understand the fragility of your own life, I think you have to also understand that there are things that can interrupt you along the way,” Daniels said. “Because for example, during the derecho, it interrupted a lot of people’s lives, it disenfranchised a lot of people. Then you have the 2008 flood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that left people homeless, and I was one of them. And so it’s really acknowledging that there are things that are just uncertain, we just don’t know from day to day, you know, how our lives can be interrupted.”
Jaye Kennedy says some of these jobs are tough, so it takes someone who can keep things in perspective.
“Be gentle with yourself in all of this and try not to take your work home with you and think about it,” she said. “Sometimes that’s not possible, quite frankly. But we’re looking for people who really have passion and want to help move people forward.”
For more information on careers at Kidspoint or Waypoint, click or tap here.
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