Winneshiek County Development has been working with area business, local providers and education leaders for the past year, gearing up to launch a child care needs assessment survey and to create an action plan that will address local needs head on.
The survey is available until November 15 and can be found on winneshiekdevelopment.org or on WCDI’s Facebook page.
“Though no one was surprised, our team’s research and planning showed us that that the existing business models for running a successful child care center are increasingly unsuccessful and outdated,” said WCDI Executive Director Stephanie Fromm.
“Struggles range from finding qualified and dedicated providers, restrictive staff to children ratios, to regulations on the types of food served for snacks and meal preparations. This is not to say these regulations and rules are unneeded or unnecessary. Our children are the future of our communities, our future leaders and the light of our lives.”
But, with more regulations and rules, there are minimal dollars available to child care providers (in-home or center based care) to help support and offset costs to remain sustainable, ultimately leading to increases in costs for families. Without assistance for all providers, the burden will continue to fall on families, forcing them to make unreasonable sacrifices, choosing work over their children.
The effect of the lack of available care resonates not only in the present, but throughout future decades. Example: If a 26-year-old American woman who earns $40,508 (the current average age for becoming a first-time mother, and the median salary for her age) leaves the labor force for five years for caregiving, she will lose more than $650,000 in wages, wage growth, and retirement benefits over her lifetime. This doesn’t take into account the occupational toll: the lost years of experience and networking, the forgone promotions, the difficulties of re-entry.
“Parents and grandparents can help as we explore this issue by taking the two-minute survey that will give us the information we need and help us in identifying our child care needs for Winneshiek County and the surrounding communities,” Fromm said.
The child care needs assessment survey is still live on winneshiekdevelopment.org until Friday, Nov. 15.