Childcare solutions abound, despite many challenges | News, Sports, Jobs

Herink

Iowa child care centers face many challenges — staffing issues and child care costs top of mind — but some organizations are dedicated to easing the burden on providers and parents.

One is the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children (Iowa AEYC). Iowa AEYC Executive Director and Marshalltown resident Jillian Herink said two of their programs — Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (TEACH) and Child Care WAGE$ Iowa (WAGE$) — focus on education and retention of employees within the child care workforce.

TEACH is a scholarship program for full-time child care providers who want to further their education. This program would pay for Child Development Associate (CDA) assessments, CDA renewal courses, early childhood associate and license degrees, and teaching licenses.

“The TEACH program helps people go to school, so it helps with the education side,” Herink said. “It attracts a lot of people who might not be your traditional students because they already have jobs.”

There are a few other requirements to be eligible for the program, such as having worked with children in their current position for at least three months. TEACH goes hand-in-hand with the WAGE$ program, which supplements the salaries of child care providers.

Depending on a child care provider’s level of education and current income, a stipend may be awarded – the higher the level of education, the higher the stipend. In turn, Herink said, this is causing child care providers to take more interest in the TEACH program.

“These two programs go together because TEACH will help you get the education and pay for release time and materials, then WAGE$ rewards you for staying (in child care) based on your education. We call them sister programs,” Herink said.

To be eligible for WAGE$, the facility the employee works for must be regulated by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and must participate in the Iowa Quality Rating System (QRS).

“(The WAGE$ program) is a supplement that kind of incentivizes you to keep working in that environment. So it’s a supplement that rewards you for staying (in the field) because we know the salaries for child care are very low,” Herink said.

The QRS is a voluntary rating system for child care providers and helps both parents and child care providers. Carrie Kube — the director of the Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Council (Iowa River Valley ECA) — says QRS is a points-based system for having quality measures in place. There are incentives for participating child care providers beyond their employees being able to apply for the WAGE$ program through the Iowa AEYC.

“Any vendor interested in doing some of these quality metrics could really benefit financially if they complete all the steps,” Kube said.

Some of these financial benefits include a higher Child Care Assistance Program (CCA) payment that low-income families often rely on to help cover costs. QRS also helps parents looking for quality child care, and Herink thinks programs that help providers financially are extremely important.

“Childcare is a very expensive service, so it costs more to have quality care for a child than it brings in as income, as parents would not be able to pay the true price . So that leaves a gap between what parents can spend and what child care providers can earn or pay their staff,” Herink said.

She also thinks there are other possible solutions outside of the two programs the Iowa AEYC supports, and she said the organization “really recommends” that a competitive pay scale be introduced for the guard field. of children.

“Early care and education as a profession needs to grow,” Herink said. “These people are professionals. They need to have training and they need competitive compensation to keep people in the field.

Herink believes that compensation should go through a public/private partnership. They need commitment and funding from government agencies and businesses.

“What we do know is that child care providers have to earn more and parents can’t afford to pay more,” Herink said.

Kube supports other programs that help parents.

The Iowa River Valley ECA is under state contract and receives state funding to develop local initiatives to support young children in Hardin and Marshall counties. Kube said one of their biggest deals is Child Care Resource and Referral (CCRR), which, in his own words, is “the primary hub” for all things child care.

The CRRC is a website that makes it easy for parents to find the child care provider that meets their needs and gives them access to many other programs. It also allows parents to view a provider’s QRS. Kube says a few of their programs go through the CRRC and they mostly focus on improving the quality of child care.

Child care consultants are available to child care providers to answer any questions about their facility, and nurse child care consultants are also employed by the Iowa River Valley ECA. Their job is to keep a daycare center safe and healthy.

From employee wages to child care safety, organizations like Iowa AEYC and Iowa River Valley ECA are on the front lines fighting these issues locally in Marshalltown and Marshall County.

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Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or [email protected]

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