Posted by ICCRR in News on 11/29/2022

Iowa Quality for Kids

When working through the new quality rating and improvement system, Iowa Quality for Kids (IQ4K®), it's best to start the process early and utilize all of the resources that are available through Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R).

Providers have a lot of questions as they navigate their application paperwork and requirements for each level. During this time, providers have utilized their CCR&R Child Care Consultant and also worked closely with the IQ4K Specialists.

A head start program located in central Iowa had multiple applications for different sites they needed to complete. The program director found it very helpful to connect with CCR&R staff as they provided the correct documents, uploaded them to the online application system and finalized their application. As a head start, they have many different standards they must complete; now IQ4K® is one of them.

The learning curve of this new system was made easier by having CCR&R involved in each step. Fast feedback, guidance and starting the process early eased the stress of the application process and ensured enough time to get all of the paperwork complete. A common roadblock for the online application, program staff must be connected in Iowa's Professional Workforce Registry (i-PoWeR). CCR&R offers clear guidance about connecting to i-PoWeR for child development homes and center/school-age programs.

This head start program is excited to have completed the process and have received their rating! (and a pretty nice bonus!) Even though it will be a while before they renew, CCR&R will be a valuable asset when it comes. 

To learn more about IQ4K® and how we can support your business – please check out our website and talk with your child care team today!

Don't forget to follow Kaya, the Quality Kangaroo, on Facebook for the scoop on all things IQ4K®!


Building the Workforce

How do you convince a high school student that money doesn’t always equal happiness? That their passion and interests should guide their career exploration? That they are never too young to open the door to a job opportunity or professional development?

Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) has been tackling these questions and approaching the child care retention and recruitment effort with innovative experiences. These experiences are targeted not at today’s workforce – but rather at the workforce of tomorrow, high school students. In essence, CCR&R and its partners are building the workforce, one child care provider at a time by tapping into something that money cannot buy… the passion for working with young children. 

In an extension of their continued partnership with the Waterloo Community School District, Waterloo Career Center and CCR&R organized a child care “field day”. The students attending are currently enrolled in the early childhood education program. This program has partnered with CCR&R for the past few years at guiding participants through mandatory training necessary to work in a licensed or registered child care facility and supported education and exploration in the child care field.

During this experience, students were bused to multiple child care centers to tour and visit with center directors. At the facilities, small groups of students were allowed to see just what a licensed facility looks like. They were able to ask questions about how it operates, classroom curriculum, staff responsibilities, the hiring process, etc. and the best part – interact with children.

Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® IOWA) and WAGE$® Iowa offered a presentation about funding opportunities for the early care and education workforce.

Additionally, CCR&R staff and the NE IA director shared with the students their path in the early childhood education field and the information they wanted the students to walk away with. The overwhelming immediate response to the day was a successful one. 

Students penned their reflections of the day on note cards, here are a few –

  • I love working with children and I’m excited to pursue my career with them!
  • Thank you so much for showing us these opportunities and giving me more options!
  • Thank you so much for this experience today. I really enjoy looking at the different child care centers.
  • I so appreciate how kind and knowledgeable everyone has been – it means the world that you’re sharing your experiences with us to make the child care world a better place for everyone!

The momentum from this experience has not slowed but rather multiplied. Currently, a handful of these students have applied for positions across the Cedar Valley or many who attended are working with CCR&R of NE IA Community Development Specialist in their classroom to take required training so they can apply for positions this coming spring and summer. 

This field day will now become one of many more in the foreseeable future. The questions surrounding how to recruit and retain our child care workforce are still there – but one thing is for certain, child care has something that many other industries do not have. Something that can be used to the advantage when building tomorrow’s workforce. Child care taps into the connection and exchange of nurturing and love between teacher and child. This connection doesn’t have a dollar amount. It is a connection that has no words – but rather when given an opportunity to feel that experience it recruits with ease those who have a passion to teach the young child.

#TogetherWeWill…Build our child care workforce. 

If you or someone you know is interested in joining the early childhood workforce, remember that CCR&R can help! Connect with a Community Development Specialist in your area to get started!


Benefits of NDS

The current funding for child care is inadequate, inconsistent, and unsustainable. It places too high a burden on families and providers working for low wages, creating what we believe are unmistakable inequities. But we need the help of grassroots child care providers and centers to capture our workforce's needs, strengths, struggles and successes. Data is only as functional as it is accurate. CCR&R data is utilized by families, communities and policymakers to make informed decisions about child care.

The changing climate of child care hinges on using data and digital technology to improve child care infrastructure. But, how does keeping your provider data up-to-date benefit child care providers? 

  • Make informed decisions – faster – to help the child care business grow, retain more customers and work more efficiently.
  • Having an accurate data system builds a better child care system. The more precise the data, the better it can help inform and educate others. 

CCR&R encourages home businesses and centers to continuously update their child care data and real-time vacancies using the Provider Portal National Data System (NDS 2.0). From infants to summer programs, our dedicated data team works daily to verify the quality and accuracy of the CCR&Rs database. We capture information through consumer feedback, regulatory data and monthly reporting of technical assistance by CCR&R staff.

Still, the most up-to-date source of information will always be the providers themselves. Your investment and dedication to keeping NDS 2.0 up-to-date ensure households have access to real-time data about supply; system leaders understand the implications of child care policies and practices and you can more successfully manage your child care businesses.

If you are a child care program looking to learn more about directly updating your file, connect with your CCR&R Child Care Consultant.


ERS and IQ4K® 

The Environment Rating Scale (ERS) is a nationally recognized tool used to assess and improve the quality of child care programs. ERS trainings offer step-by-step guidance for making helpful changes that can make a real difference in the work that is done with young children, such as:

  • Quality improvement in areas of health and safety, program structure, teacher-child interactions, activities, language, space and furnishings, parent communication and staff development.
  • Importance of assessing learning, play and routine environments.
  • Indicate quality in staff-child interaction, program structure and language/literacy areas.

With so many training options out there and available these days, how can you be sure you are taking the right ones to help keep your program on a direct path to continuous quality improvement? We are here to help!

There are 4 different ERS training series to choose from based on your current role. These trainings are offered both in person and virtually through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (ISU). All ERS training series are 8 clock hours of HHS training credit.

  • Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-3)
    • Preschool and child care directors, teachers and staff caring for preschool children (3-5 years of age)
  • Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS-3)
    • In-home child care providers of children birth to age 12
  • Infant and Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS-3)
    • Child care providers and teachers in a center-based program caring for infants and toddlers (Birth through age 2)
  • School-Age Environment Rating Scale-U (SACERS-U)
    • Teachers and staff providing care for school-age children (ages 5-12 years) in before and after school and summer care programs

ERS trainings and assessments are built into Iowa Quality for Kids (IQ4K®), Iowa’s new Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). For anyone applying for IQ4K® levels 4 or 5, you must meet the requirements of completing the applicable score sheets and improvement plans for your program. These forms can be found on the IQ4K webpage. If you have questions or need additional support to meet these requirements, contact your local IQ4K Specialist.

Remember, CCR&R staff are available to support you on every step of the journey! Don't be afraid to get started on improving your child care environment today!


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 Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and statewide child care partners have announced many new programs to help child care providers in Iowa.

Be sure to review funding opportunities that may support your business:

  • Child Care Challenge Grant
  • Employer Innovation Grant
  • Recruitment & Retention Bonus Program
  • Rural Child Care Market Study
  • Shared Services - Web-based Partnership Platform
  • Stabilization Grants
  • WAGE$® Iowa - Salary Supplement Program

Reach out to your CCR&R Child Care Consultant with questions.


Child Care Collaborative of Iowa

Child Care Collaborative of Iowa (CCCI) is a new program to help Iowa child care programs with financial planning and organization.

Financial Management Consultants (FMC) work with child care business administrators (Child Care Centers and Child Development Home providers) to offer specific financial management coaching to identify and implement strategies to strengthen fiscal sustainability and support high-quality programming. The FMC supports programs in understanding business such as enrollment strategies, full-fee collection and cost-per-child calculations utilizing a Child Care Management System (CCMS) software.

CCMS software products are specifically designed to help child care providers automate their day-to-day operations so that staff have more time to spend with children. CCMS provides digital tools for tasks such as enrollment, daily attendance, billing, waitlist management, hourly ratio reports, daily activities in classrooms, communication tools for families and more! 

Want to learn more about how CCCI can can assist with modernizing your business? Check out this flyer!

Have questions before you take the next step? Review this FAQ!

Child care programs can see all resources on the Child Care Collaborative of Iowa webpage.


Social-Emotional Behavior Mental Health Services

CCR&R is excited to announce they have expanded their statewide services to meet the social-emotional needs of children! Connect with a CCR&R Child Care Consultant for more information.

Did you know that children may bite to tell you how they are feeling?

 Young children may not have the communication skills or words to express their emotions so they may engage in biting out of frustration, the need for attention or feeling overwhelmed. What can you do to help?

 The National Center for Pyramid Model Interventions (NCPMI) (2018) offers these strategies:

  • Stay calm with your actions and words when the biting occurs
  • Try to find out why the biting occurred 
  • Teach the child simple words like “mine” or “no”
  • Model how to play, take turns, and share by joining the child in their play
  • Teach the child appropriate ways to get your attention like tapping on your arm
  • Read books about emotions and ways to deal with them

 For more tips, browse these resources:


Re-Invent vs Re-Build: Let's Fix the Child Care System

Early Childhood Iowa (ECI) and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sponsored a webinar opportunity with Louise Stoney of Opportunities Exchange.

The recording from the November 9 webinar is now available

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the Early Childhood Education (ECE) sector. Ensuring that high-quality programs, especially those serving vulnerable children and families, not only survive but thrive, is crucial. This webinar explores key lessons and action steps that could be game-changers for the child care field. Additionally, it outlines how industry leaders can work with the public and private sectors to champion a “Child Care Come-Back Plan”. 


All-Staff Day

CCR&R held our annual statewide professional development day on November 9, 2022. This was the first time since the pandemic that all of our staff were able to get together in person and we had an amazing time getting the chance to re-connect and have some fun! Our dedicated staff from all 99 counties around Iowa made the trip to Des Moines for a day filled with networking, featured speakers, team building activities and awards. We also welcomed our friends and partners from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

 CCR&R of Central Iowa’s Regional Director provided an inspiring welcome and helped to acknowledge the many workgroups and teams we have working across the state. Sarah Ennis, founder and President of SparkPoint Inc., spoke about building skills and positive work environments.

Julie Allison and Micki Beard, Iowa Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) deserve a special thank you for the fun trivia game highlighting our partnership successes throughout the year.

Following lunch, we welcomed our second speaker, Susan Dannen, a licensed social worker, registered play therapist and a registered yoga instructor - what a wonderful way to highlight the importance of self-care.

Laughter was wide-spread as the five regions battled it out over a game of blindfolded Pictionary!

CCR&R of SW Iowa won the super-coveted IQ4K® Kaya socks, but everyone won a candy bar to remind us that we are still worth 100 GRAND!

We wrapped up the day with our annual awards and acknowledgments. The Child Star Award seeks to recognize those who have a passionate commitment to young children, child care and the importance of early childhood in communities. This year, we had two winners of the Child Star Award.

Dan Levi, an Iowa architect, has been a champion for child care for more than 10 years. In 2015, a local business was unable to receive funding for their start-up child care – sparking his passion to help the community understand child care. Ever since then he has been known as the child care expert in his field and always refers communities to their local CCR&R for collaboration!

Lori Schonhorst, of Iowa State University Extension & Outreach, is best known for her work with I-Consult. Her passion for supporting consultants to grow in their work is undeniable. She asks questions in a thought-provoking, reflective way and supports consultants in their professional growth. She takes time to genuinely listen and values input from everyone. Our early childhood system as a whole has benefited from the knowledge she shares and the kindness and compassion she models to others.

The Janet George Award seeks to recognize those who have a passionate commitment to young children, child care and Iowa CCR&R. The recipient of this year’s award was Cassie Reuter, CCR&R of NW Iowa.

Cassie has exemplified the mission of Janet George. She treats every provider, parent and co-worker with the utmost importance while committing to providing the highest level of quality services to all people that she works with. Cassie has gone above and beyond her basic data responsibilities while implementing several statewide projects, including reviewing all fiscal memos for 261 programs and $27 million dollars across the state through Investing in Iowa’s Child Care funding program.

We had such a fun, rejuvenating day taking time to appreciate ourselves, connect with colleagues and honor the great work that CCR&R has accomplished in the past year. We feel relaxed, refreshed and ready to take on a new year of work at CCR&R. This event was a great reminder to take some time to care for ourselves and we encourage you all to do the same!



CCR&R is excited to announce our recruitment texting campaign in Iowa. Our community development team designed this marketing tool to help folks who are considering starting a career in early childhood education. This new platform guides participants through options to consider before starting a new, rewarding career in child care.

Start your career in early childhood education! Text: startchildcare to 59925


Looking for Child Care Services

Parent Referral texting offers a way for parents to connect with our online referral options. This parent text campaign will send no more than six texts offering referral assistance and tips to help parents with their search. Our texting system is automated and personal responses may be delayed.

Start your search today! Text: IAchildcare to 59925


Provider Text Messaging

CCR&R offers text messaging to ensure we are delivering information and important updates to early childhood education professionals as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Sign up today! Text: IowaCCRR to 59925



To read the complete newsletter online, click here.


Tags: newsletter , ccr&r news , community partnerships , podcast , parent referrals , cost of child care , recruitment

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