Day care awarded state funding to deal with childcare needs

Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Childcare in the state of Iowa has become more and more difficult to find.

According to the Governor’s Office, the state has lost a third of its childcare businesses in just five years. As the number of providers has fallen, the need for daycare has grown. The state said Iowa needs 350,000 open slots to meet today’s need for daycare services for children younger than 12.

“It can be a bit difficult to find a day care for someone with really extensive needs,” said Josh Dilks of Hills.

Dilks’ 18-month-old son, Owen, lives with spina bifida and epilepsy. He and his wife were able to find the Arc of Southeast Iowa and Bill Reagan Children’s Center for day care.

“They work really well for him,” he said. “They make sure to have special toys and chairs for him.”

One of the ways the state looked to address the issue was by making funding available for childcare businesses and nonprofits. The Children’s Center applied for the state’s “Child Care Challenge”. It was awarded $250,000 for an expansion which it matched in order to help the growing demand.

“We have about 35 people on a waiting list,” said Jenny Winegarden, the Children’s Center Director.

Winegarden said they still needed to fundraise around $230,000 to complete the project. They also need to find a way to hire and pay staff.

“We need to think outside the box and how to recruit and how to retain staff because there’s not a whole lot of money in the nonprofit world for paying people,” she said. “We need to think outside of the box and figure out what kind of benefits we can offer.”

Winegarden plans to continue fundraising to complete the project and help even more kids like Owen in the future.

“They’ve been very good and helpful with getting new toys and things for him to play with,” said Dilks.