Dubuque organizations creating solutions to child care shortage, affordability

By  | 

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) -- Organizations in Dubuque are coming up with solutions to the lack of accessible and affordable child care.

Kids at Young-uns Child Care Center play with cars and farm toys on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (Allison Wong, KCRG-TV9)

At a child care summit hosted by the  Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, non-profit Greater Dubuque Development Corporation (GDDC) announced its partnership with Northeast Iowa Community College to train child care providers and provide child care to students in a job training program.

That job and skills training program is called Opportunity Dubuque. It trains underemployed or unemployed, low-income individuals and has many programs, such as welding, CNA or culinary. GDDC wants to add a child development associates program.

Kristin Dietzel, Vice President of Workforce Solutions for GDDC, said the program would prepare people to work in day care centers.

"Some of the topics covered would be social/emotional learning, you know, safety issues around child care," Dietzel said. "They would have a hands-on experience part of that program as well where they’re actually working with kids.”

She said this would position a person to enter a job with all of the qualifications covered, as well as give a person the opportunity to work their way up.

"One reason we’re offering this program as a pathway is that so individuals wouldn’t be in that wage-level forever. They would have opportunities to advance their education and move into higher levels of the business," she explained. "Students could take that, work in the field, start their own in-home day care potentially, or choose to continue their education in the full, one-year program.”

Barb Weber, owner and director of Young-uns Child Care Center, said this program could help out her business and save her money.

"The cost to hire somebody is around $500 just for the training and things that they need to have," Weber explained.

She said employees need to get certified in CPR, first aid, universal precautions and mandatory reporting, on top of doing the Young-uns staff training.

To have employees walk in with most of their qualifications taken care of would be, "an easy way to start off," Weber said.

Dietzel said GDDC is also researching how it can offer child care to its participants in the Opportunity Dubuque program.

She said the cost or availability of child care often stops people from joining the program, or getting advanced job training elsewhere.

"We know from the coaches in that program that child care is a significant barrier, particularly for the women who want to participate in the program," Dietzel said.

Jason Neises, Heart and Soul Coordinator with the Community Foundation, said he's working with businesses in the area to help them find solutions to their employees needing child care.

Neises said solutions include businesses coming together to open a child care center.

"They could partner with other employers that have similar needs and share the risk of starting a center," Neises explained. "Instead of starting that center themselves, share the risk of doing that among other employers."

He said another idea explores businesses allowing their employees to work flexible hours to ensure they can drop off and pick up their kids from day care.

President and CEO Nancy Van Milligen said the Foundation is raising money to bring a program to the area called WAGE$. It would help child care centers pay their employees.

Van Milligen explained, "they would supplement child care workers’ pay based on their education and their longevity.”

Dietzel said the Opportunity Dubuque program should begin its child development associate program sometime in 2019.