BELLEVUE, Iowa — Facing a shortage of day care services, Bellevue officials are examining possible solutions.
City Council members this week discussed the city’s scarcity of such offerings — a state only expected to worsen.
City Administrator and City Clerk Abbey Skrivseth said she was informed that a local day care provider will retire soon, and there is fear that more will follow.
“A lot of places are full in town, and there are waiting lists,” she said. “They have to hold off on taking in children.”
St. Joseph’s Catholic School runs a day care facility. Its director, Heather Weber, said it has grown from about 20 children to about 80 in the past 13 years, yet she still receives multiple calls each week from parents that she has to turn away.
“There are some weeks where I will get daily phone calls for spots,” she said. “We are at our max capacity.”
Dave Heiar, senior adviser for Jackson County Economic Alliance, spoke with council members about the issue.
He said a lack of day care services is not unique to the city. Many communities throughout the area are impacted by a lack of child care providers.
“It’s a very critical issue if you are trying to grow your community,” he said. “If you can’t find child care, it’s unlikely that (families) are going to be willing to live there.”
Heiar said the issue is compounded by the challenge of day care facilities trying to maintain an adequate workforce. The high stress and relatively low pay of child care workers can lead to high turnover.
Weber said St. Joseph’s day care center has 18 staff, and it can be challenging to retain the needed number of employees.
“It’s hard keeping staff to what you need,” Weber said. “The wages aren’t the highest, and it’s not an easy job.”
To combat the issue, Skrivseth said a committee will be formed of city officials, school district officials and local day care providers, who will work together to compile possible solutions.
“It is a priority for the city, and there’s no easy solution,” Skrivseth said. “It’s something that we want to address.”
Heiar said JCEA will work with the committee to help develop potential partnerships with local organizations that could create additional day care services. He added that potential state subsidies also will be explored to help retain current day care staff in town.
“We need to look at organizations that could be willing to enter partnerships to offer these services,” Heiar said. “That could be schools, churches or nonprofits. The more people you can bring to the table, the easier that task becomes.”