Child care providers hope new federal grants will help Iowa tackle shortage

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The federal funding will go toward building new child care centers across the state at a time when more resources are desperately needed.

DES MOINES, Iowa — New federal funding will go toward building child care facilities across the state as some providers still struggle to get up and running at a time when more facilities are desperately needed.

It’s an issue Wes Foster, director of the Highland Park Community Development Association, said he’s been working on for six-and-a-half years.

“We asked the community what the need was, and after a lot of research, we found that there was a huge lack of childcare in this area.”

Foster opened the doors to Precious Beginning’s Children’s Center two weeks ago, and he says there’s still a lot of work to do.

“We’re just waiting for more grants, and just more money, basically, before we can finish it,” he said.

The center recently received over $500,000 from US Department of Health and Human Services and $10,000 from Iowa Workforce Development.

The pressing need for more childcare also extends beyond the metro. Cherie Cerveny says her rural community is also struggling with this.

“We had a study done of the child care needs in our county, not just for the community of Jefferson, but for the entire Greene County area, and it showed there was a great need for childcare that didn’t exist,” Cerveny said. .

The Jefferson County Early Learning Center is getting a brand new building that will increase capacity by 50%, opening up 70 new spaces.

Both of these new facilities are actively seeking staff, which can be particularly difficult in rural areas. The Jefferson County Early Learning Center is looking for people who enjoy working with children and who ideally have a two-year degree in child development.

Cerveny said the challenge arises when applicants with four-year degrees are drawn to work on the subway where the pay may be higher.

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