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Forum seeks to identify child care gaps

Clinton Herald - 8/9/2018

Aug. 09--CLINTON -- As it works on the front lines of sparking economic growth, the Clinton Regional Development Corp. is taking a closer look at the region's child care needs.

A survey done by the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque of its seven-county region, including Clinton County, sought to answer the question: How can the Foundation support economic growth of rural regions?

"Could we become known as a region that has high quality of life for young parents ... If we were branded that way, that would be a cool thing," says Jason Neises of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.

That study, completed in partnership with the Rural Economic Development Philanthropy Innovation Network, found gaps in accessible, affordable child care in Eastern Iowa.

Such gaps are being noticed locally.

Shari Determan, owner of Wee Care for Young People in Clinton, said she's had to turn people away. Determan, who employs 15 people with about 125 kids under her care, said she doesn't have the resources to accommodate any more.

And when Kids First, a child care center in Camanche, recently closed, other providers noticed pressure on their centers as parents looked for child care.

Specific to Clinton County, the CRDC will host a Community Child Care Forum from 6 to 7:30 p.m.Aug. 22 at the Felix Adler Children's Discovery Center, 332 Eighth Ave. South, to kick off a study of such needs in Clinton County.

Andy Sokolovich of the CRDC is putting out a call to action to business leaders, parents, current child care providers and elected officials. The community forum, he hopes, will reveal gaps in Clinton -- and get the ball rolling to provide solutions. River Bluff Community Foundation, which is an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, will join the CRDC in bringing all the players together.

Neises said needs of families moving into a community must be met.

"Things like child care become an issue for the community," he said. "The first question (young professionals) ask is 1. Where am I going to live? and 2. Who is going to take care of my child while I am at work. That is their second question."

Employers need to have an answer to these questions, Neises said, adding that this study, by involving employers in finding solutions, empowers the employers.

"If the employer stares blankly back," when a potential employee asks these important questions, "that person is not going to take that job," he said.

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(c)2018 the Clinton Herald (Clinton, Iowa)

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