Daycare

Over the last five years, Iowa has lost 40 percent of its childcare providers. This has resulted in increased rates, meaning that even many families who have access to daycare can no longer afford it. In turn, this has left many adults – primarily women – out of the workforce, compounding the issue of trying to afford daycare. Rural communities like Villisca are hit especially hard by this lack of daycare, as parents and guardians must travel further to reach daycare providers, thereby exacerbating the challenge of finding affordable child care.

The Iowa Women’s Foundation found that “access to affordable, high-quality care provides a competitive advantage to businesses in attracting and retaining talent, and increasing productivity and employee satisfaction while reducing absenteeism. It also impacts their children’s health, well-being, and future academic and career success. These benefits come back to businesses by building a strong future workforce.”

Source: Iowa Women’s Foundation

An Iowa Women’s Foundation initiative confirmed this challenge. Half of the communities the Foundation engaged with identified the lack of affordable, quality child care as their top concern.

While Villisca has a number in-home child care providers, it does not have any licensed centers. Community leaders see this as a significant challenge, especially given the proximity of the highly-rated Stanton Child Resource Center.

To overcome this, community leaders must work alongside school district leaders to forge ahead together. Community leaders see the need to build a child care center but understand the enormous costs associated with new construction. Fortunately, Villisca has numerous buildings that are centrally located and are ripe for redevelopment. While a number of buildings could be renovated for a daycare, the best option for the community is to locate a couple of dedicated daycare rooms in the school.

The school building already is set up for children and meets various code requirements as set forth by the Iowa Department of Education. It allows youth in the daycare rooms to get comfortable in the school building before officially starting there, easing the transition as they grow. Further, if they have children of different ages, it allows parents and guardians to make one-stop, creating efficiencies in their day.

Officials will need to determine how exactly the daycare functions and what the relationship with the school is. Will the daycare be set up as a nonprofit with a long-term lease agreement with the school district, or will the school district decide to take on the daycare within its own operation? There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each approach. Top considerations in this discussion should be capital funding, revenue generation, and hiring procedures.

ACTION STEPS

Team Up

WHAT

Develop project leadership team

WHO

Steering committee, school district leadership

HOW

Work with McClure to determine daycare team co-chairs and remaining team members. Partner with Montgomery County Development Corporation, Iowa State University Extension, or SWIPCO to complete formal market analysis.

WHEN

Q1 2019

Estimate

WHAT

Determine financial feasibility of daycare

WHO

Daycare leadership team

HOW

Work with architect to design buildout and develop a cost estimate for renovation. Determine funding capacity of school district and then develop funding strategy, looking at grants, low-interest loans, in-kind contributions, and philanthropic opportunities. For the fundraising stream, look at people who have ties to Villisca and leverage VAFA.

WHEN

Q2 2019

Build

WHAT

Build daycare

WHO

Daycare leadership team

HOW

With funding largely secured, begin buildout. Work with architect to finalize design documents and to create construction documents. Seek bids on work, following appropriate procurement rules depending on how daycare is set up. Review price and  construction schedule, and consider proximity to Villisca; it is always preferable to keep money in the local economy if possible.

WHEN

Q1 2020

Hire

WHAT

Hire staff

WHO

Daycare leadership team

HOW

Advertise, interview, and hire staff. Look for a range of experience and credentials to ensure daycare can attain a high rating and thereby attract more families. At the same time, begin advertising openings at the daycare. As the buildout occurs, share sneak peek photos and videos to excite the community and build local champions that will help spread the word. When staff is hired, the buildout is complete, and the first children are enrolled at the daycare, host a grand opening celebration.

WHEN

Q3 2020