Community members discuss childcare challenges during panel discussion

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 5:48 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Childcare providers, employers, and parents in Cedar Rapids are working together to eliminate challenges when it comes to childcare.

The Catherine McAuley Center hosted a panel on Wednesday for various groups in the community to hear about those challenges and talk about what can be done to change them. In attendance was Nena Adams, owner of a brand new childcare center, Kiddos! Childcare & Learning Center. She says she was there to learn more about what she can do to make positive change in the childcare field. Changes like competitive wages for employees in the field.

“They’re worth more than that. They do a lot of work. They do a lot of planning and teaching so I think they should be paid for that,” Adams said.

Also advocating for provider benefits was We Care Daycare Inc. director Consuelo Steel-Cherry.

“We need to start offering incentives as far as going back to school to get quality service, offering them more money because we’re like low on the totem pole. Our expectations are so high, the need is so great but they pay us so little,” Steel-Cherry said.

Not only did they emphasize the importance of employee needs, but the needs of parents as well.

“It’s about the child, but the child feeds off of the parent,” Adams said. “I’m going to try to partner with some companies where I can give some gas cards to parents and extra clothes for them if they need them.”

Panelists agreed, change starts with conversations like the one held on Wednesday. But more importantly, they say stories like Adams’ and Steel-Cherry’s need to reach lawmakers.

“These need to happen more often than we believe because then there’s more conversations on how to support this group of people, and how to move forward in the next five to ten years because it’s not a ‘right around the corner’ thing to fix,” Steel-Cherry said. “It’s going to take a little while.”