Marita Theisen Center opens in Dubuque, helping to fill childcare need

Kids play at the Marita Theisen Childcare Center in Dubuque on August 26, 2019. (Allison...
Kids play at the Marita Theisen Childcare Center in Dubuque on August 26, 2019. (Allison Wong/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Aug. 26, 2019 at 8:54 PM CDT
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It's tough for parents to find childcare for their kids due to fewer programs available across the state of Iowa, but one center opening in Dubuque is filling some of the need.

According to the Iowa Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R), the state of Iowa saw a 42 percent decrease in centers from 2013 to 2018. In


Counties, the number of childcare centers decreased by 41 percent in those five years.

saw less of a decrease but still lost about a quarter of its childcare centers. In

, there was a 35 percent decrease in that same time frame.

The Marita Theisen Childcare Center opened in Dubuque on Monday, August 26, adding 70 childcare spots to the market.

Judy Wolf, Steeple Square Treasurer, said, "to see kids walk through the door today and be ready to go to their classrooms is very exciting.”

The center can serve children ages 0 to 5. Wolf says this is an age group that can be difficult to find care for.

“That’s a big part of the need," she said. "I’d say there are many more programs that accommodate children before and after school than those that need full-time care during the day.”

The CCR&R has data that backs up that claim. In Dubuque County, it found there are 7,504 kids up to 5 years old. However, there are only 5,659 childcare spaces available for all ages.

Stephanie Van Groll, a childcare consultant with CCR&R, said, "we’re definitely looking for more childcare providers, whether they are doing care in their home or if they’re interested in opening a center. We always encourage people to contact us so we can help get them on the right path to be able to get that process started."

She admits that creating new spots takes time.

"It is a bit of a lengthy process," Van Groll said. "It does take resources, financially, and to be able to meet the requirements for what the Department of Human Services requires.”

Wolf is happy to be making an impact, and especially in the Washington Neighborhood in Dubuque where she said low-income families had to work their children to a center.

"It’s a major barrier for those returning to the workplace or starting employment for the first time," she said. "It's just nice again to be able to help address that barrier and overcome that for the people to give them a better start in life.”

The Marita Theisen Childcare Center still has spots available.