Child care projects at TrueNorth Companies and To The Rescue in Cedar Rapids could create 200 new child care slots as a result of grants awarded by Gov. Kim Reynolds through Future Ready Iowa’s Child Care Business Incentive Grant program.
TrueNorth received a $2.79 million grant from the program, and is considering the creation of a new child care center designated for its employees in Cedar Rapids. The company would partner with Waypoint’s Child Care division, Kids Point, who would manage the program, providing an estimated 100 children with child care services.
“As we consider investing in our colleagues and our commitment to our downtown presence as a community leader, the idea of offering a child care solution to our colleagues is something we’re actively exploring,” said TrueNorth CEO Jason Smith. “The grant program has accelerated our ability to further consider this investment. We are appreciative of the funding that’s been made available. We will now advance efforts with a more formal assessment of the viability of this offering.”
To The Rescue plans to use a $2.5 million grant from the program to build a child care facility in the Cedar Rapids area that would serve children throughout Linn County, as seven cities in the county are in a child care desert. The project’s goals consist of building the structure, properly staffing the facility, receiving approvals to operate the facility, providing quality child care and obtaining child care accreditations. The project anticipates adding 100 child care slots available for To The Rescue employees’ families in the Cedar Rapids area.
The two grants, announced Sept. 13, are part of $26.6 million awarded to 23 projects intended to help businesses jumpstart new child care opportunities and make it easier for Iowans to find child care options through their employer.
The Child Care Business Incentive Grant is awarding 19 projects with $25.9 million to address infrastructure projects, while four projects are receiving $603,433 to support agreements between businesses and local centers that create new child care slots. In total, the funding from Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will involve 67 employers and is expected to create nearly 1,786 child care slots.
“Iowa businesses know that access to quality child care is a major factor in employees’ ability to work,” Gov. Reynolds said in a news release. “These awards will support and incentivize employer investment in child care resources on site or through community partnerships and strengthen our efforts to provide high quality child care throughout the state of Iowa.”
The Child Care Business Incentive Grant was established this year to enable businesses and employer consortiums to build on-site child care centers or partner with local child care providers to increase new child care slots for employees. The grant program advances one of the top recommendations of the Child Care Task Force – to incentivize business engagement in child care.
“Not only do (the) awards help employers create or expand child care for existing workers, but they also enhance their ability to be successful in attracting and retaining new employees,” said Iowa Workforce Development director Beth Townsend. “Our focus moving forward must remain on addressing these specific types of barriers to provide options for families and create an environment where the local workforce can thrive.”
“These grants support Iowa’s investment in quality child care options and strengthen parents’ ability to provide for their families while gaining the benefits of early learning for their children,” said Iowa Department of Health and Human Services Director Kelly Garcia. “As a working mom who still has a child in care, I see first-hand the advantage children who engage in early learning have and deeply understand the need for additional access in our State. These grants take that next step forward in ensuring Iowa’s commitment to achieving better access for all.”
Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services have announced a second round of funding for the Child Care Business Incentive slots grant. This new opportunity seeks to provide additional flexibility in the ways employers can partner with local child care providers to meet the needs of their employees. Grants will support projects that increase licensed or operational child care slots, add slots to meet new time/day requirements of employees, or fill currently licensed (but unfilled) slots for the benefit of employees.
Applications for the program are now being accepted. Applications are now being accepted at https://www.futurereadyiowa.gov/child-care-grants and are due Oct. 17.
To date, the state of Iowa has awarded 191 projects with approximately $75.6 million in grant funding to help create over 10,700 new child care slots.