Posted by ICCRR in News on 11/19/2021

Child Care Solutions: Strength in Partners

We’ve all heard the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” which speaks to the community of people who provide and interact with a child in order for them to survive, grow and thrive.

With the high demand for workers, 75% of Iowa families have all parents in the household working with children under the age of 6. And so, the simple truth exists across our state: Iowa is built on business; businesses are built on families; and today’s families need child care. Now, what happens when you remove one of these pieces? This question is the current child care reality that we are facing.

We are a state that prides itself as “Iowa Strong.” We are seeing our communities accept this child care situation, not with defeat or complacency, but rather striving to become that “village” in order to best support the future of their citizens, their economy and Iowa’s children. 

Determined to solve this child care barrier, some of our economic and local leaders have joined together with established educational facilities to tackle this issue head-on. To help lead them in this effort, they called on Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) to guide, support and continue their projects forward into fruition with the hope and goal of creating localized child care solutions that would best fit their community needs.

One current example of this partnership can be seen with the Delaware County Child Care Coalition that is being led by Delaware County Economic Development Executive Director, Donna Boss. This coalition group of local business and community leaders, citizens, educational leaders and CCR&R is unfolding in real-time. 

Breaking the work down into phases – they are currently carrying out “Phase II” of their child care solutions project. “Phase I” was to see if there was a need. “Phase II” is now to dig deeper and understand that need. With CCR&R support, they were able to access previously used community child care surveys and then meet back as a large group with their CCR&R Community Development Specialist to tailor their child care survey into what they felt was best suited to answer the questions they had and deliver insightful data needed to figure out best “next steps.” This survey was launched the first week of November, with over 100 responses within 24 hours and over 300 responses within days! From a child care data perspective – this is a major success! From this survey, they will work with CCR&R to break down and analyze the results. These results will be used to decide and move forward on the best local solution for their communities.

Successes like these do not just happen overnight when a couple of individuals send out a survey. No, it is when PARTNERSHIP of the coalition unified together to strive to make these data pieces a success that it became a reality. A needed reality that will help put together this child care puzzle. This “It takes a village to raise a child” proverb has been elevated to new and exciting community awareness, involvement and action – Delaware County is that village. They are determined to find solutions for their families. 

To learn more about CCR&R and how we can support your community – please check out our Communities page and talk with your child care team today!

CCR&R is very thankful to over 350 Iowa communities that have partnered with us in the search for child care solutions. The questions and conversation exchanges between the attendees have led to meaningful understanding and insight which continues CCR&R’s mission and vision: to provide resources, education and advocacy to support quality child care. CCR&R is committed to ensuring that Iowa’s vision is met: Every child beginning at birth will be healthy and successful. 

Early Childhood Iowa

Throughout the state, there are 38 Early Childhood Iowa (ECI) areas that represent Iowa's 99 counties. We spoke with Amy, the ECI Director at JMP (Jasper, Marion, Poweshiek). We discussed the ways in which her ECI area was able to help local providers. The year 2020 was a crazy one for early childhood and Amy knew they had leftover money in their budget they were not able to spend. The first thing they asked was “How can we make an impact?” and then they partnered with CCR&R to start a grant for the Business Investment Program (BIP). With this grant, center and home providers were able to apply to help with improvements and items for their program. Amy stated, “We wanted to make this as accessible to providers as we could and empower them by providing funds for them to make changes and lessen the burden.”

Wanting to know the impact that was made, we reached out to Tricia, a child care provider. With the BIP funding she received, she was able to place doors and shelving in a closet to store extra supplies with easy access for her program. She also made an upgrade to her outdoor space by replacing wood mulch with shredded rubber mulch. This had been a goal for her program for a long time. Tricia also said that this encouraged her to renew her Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™, Iowa's Quality Rating System (QRS) rating and other past credentials that were expiring. Tricia said she greatly appreciates any type of grant or funding to help her program and her ECI area, along with CCR&R, made the process easy.

Expanding Center Resources

CCR&R provides professional development and consultation services that support a child care business's ability to achieve and maintain regulatory status in good standing and work to achieve and maintain performance at higher quality levels in Iowa’s Quality Rating System (QRS). For the past few years, CCR&R has been working hard on some new tools and programs to be able to help centers succeed. We have developed a new program titled the CLUB. The CLUB stands for Center Leadership Unified for Balance and strives to help all centers achieve their highest potential and serve children in a quality environment. 

Rebekah Hungate, Business Development Specialist, said, “Have you ever thought about a child care center like a three-legged stool? This is how I think of child care centers, you have three legs: a director, a board/or owner and staff. If any of these legs are shorter than the other, then you have a situation where you might fall over or it might make it harder to sit on your stool. That is where the CLUB can come and help. We want the center unified for balance and to make sure all the legs of the stool are the same length and firmly placed on the ground."

CCR&R has developed a center assessment tool that we can use to help find the areas of strength and the areas that might be causing one of the legs of the stool to be a bit shorter. We then offer tools, coaching or consultation around those areas. Staff surveys and leadership surveys are also other tools that can help us find ways to support the program. There are more resources on our website that can help support boards or center directors and the resources are available to everyone, even if you aren’t working directly with CLUB. Additionally, CCR&R started to offer board training to the CLUB members as we know that sometimes that is part of the leg that might be shorter.

For more information about CLUB or how board training may potentially help your center grow, check out our Child Care Center webpage.

All Our Kin

All Our Kin is a ten-week virtual business series that is designed to support child care home providers grow their knowledge in the business and establish positive relationships with other business owners throughout the state. The series covers eight key concepts of running a family child care business and will equip providers with all the tools and resources needed to implement changes in child care business practices to be more successful. CCR&R brought this training to Iowa in 2020 and is currently offering multiple statewide series that is open to all family child care home providers throughout the year. If you attend all the live sessions and do the self-study in between sessions, you can get 33 hours of DHS-approved training credit. Some providers who have attended the series say it is worth so much more than the training hours. Here is what a couple of them had to say about their experience:

“I realized the importance of having policies and procedures and a contract and why they should be separate. I absolutely loved this zoom training, the small groups and learning new ideas from other providers and visiting with them. It was so much fun. I honestly learned so much and have implemented most everything into my daycare program!” ~ Lindsey R.

“I attended All Our Kin and the biggest change I have made is to stand up for myself. I now only do a weekly rate and everyone pays even if they don’t attend. I also learned that my insurance was not good enough and have made changes there also. To me, the best part of All Our Kin was all the great friendships I now have with fellow providers!” ~ Cindy K

“As an All Our Kin instructor, I quickly learned that my role as the instructor was to present the information and then guide a few activities that sparked conversations and meaningful thinking within the group. Most of the learning comes when you just provide a space for the participants to network and have conversations, they learn from the other family child care providers. This series really empowers these providers to take ownership of their business and make it work for them!” ~ Dawn Badker

To learn more about what topics are covered in this series, visit All Our Kin. You can search for and enroll in this training series and all other DHS-approved training on i-PoWeR or look on the CCR&R website to find upcoming online training opportunities that are relevant to you!

Board Training

Did You Know…. Child Care Centers and preschools that identify as non-profit (501(c)(3)) have a Board of Directors that controls the business operations? 

CCR&R is excited to announce our partnership with Dakota Business Group to offer six hours of Welcome to the Board series training specific to the needs of board members. Topics include:

  • Roles, Responsibilities and Skills of a Board Member
  • Building A Sustainable, Competent Board
  • Basics of Financial Statements
  • Key Financial and Non-Financial Ratios
  • Determining the Organizations Sustainability and Growth Gap
  • Basic Strategic Planning

Training tours are being scheduled around Iowa. Please connect with Iowa CCR&R staff if your board has an interest in attending a training.

“The information we received about managing the financials in a Child Care Center was extremely helpful! I would recommend this training to all child care boards, regardless of their role.” ~ Board Treasurer

“I was not sure of my responsibility as a board member. After taking this training, I have a clear understanding of what I need to do.” ~ Board Member

For more information about the Iowa principles and practices of a nonprofit board, check out the Iowa Principles and Practices for Charitable Nonprofit Excellence here.

Funding Opportunities

Governor Reynolds launched the Child Care Taskforce on March 10, 2021, to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the child care shortage and barriers to work in Iowa. The final report can be found here.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has announced many new programs to help child care providers in Iowa. Be sure to review opportunities that may support your business and reach out to your CCR&R Child Care Consultant with questions:

Referrals and Education for Parents

Families looking for child care referrals have another communication option, texting! CCR&R is excited to offer another tool to ensure we are able to reach families as efficiently as possible.

If you or someone you know is looking for child care services, please connect with our Parent Referral Team!

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Tags: newsletter , funding opportunities , eci , all our kin , board training ,

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