The Belmond-Klemme school board was not surprised to find that there is a great need for daycare facilities in the district. However, the board expressed surprise at the number of children who need better daycare options.
A market analysis commissioned by the district found that there are 485 children who likely need care, but only 62 spaces in licensed daycare centers or DHS-registered homes. That means parents can find regulated care for only 13 percent of the children between the ages of 0 and 12.
Parents are coping with this gap by using unregulated daycare or family members (including grandparents and older siblings) as babysitters, working different shifts (in a two-parent home), or leaving older children alone at home. Some parents report that they left the workforce after a child was born or adopted.
The study shows that Belmond has five DHS-registered providers. The TLC pre-school run by Trinity Lutheran Church only accepts 3- and 4-year-olds on a part-time basis during the school year. There are four registered in-home providers, and none of them accept children younger than two years of age.
In contrast, Clarion has eight in-home providers and Eagle Grove has six in-home providers that accept infants through 12 years of age. Each town also has a licensed daycare center. In Garner, there are eight in-home providers and one licensed daycare center that accepts children up to age 12, and one church-affiliated preschool for three-to five-year-olds.
The average cost of full-time daycare at registered homes in Wright County is just over $125 per week.
First Children’s Finance of Iowa conducted two electronic surveys several months ago. Angie Rae Duncan presented the market analysis to the school board July 18.
The recommendation from FCF is:
Based on our analysis, it can be concluded that more quality child care spaces are needed. The gap is large enough that it may take a combination of providers to meet the demand. This could mean opportunities for existing providers to expand as well as a new center opening.
Considerations for meeting the demand:
• Hours of care to accommodate this area’s working parents, especially those in the top industries of manufacturing and health care and social assistance. The majority of parents indicate they need care between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
• Quality child care environments to meet local parent preferences. Parents with children ages 0 to 5 (not in kindergarten) most prefer a licensed center, while those with children age 5 to 12 most prefer as licensed centers for school year care but a registered child development home for summer care.
• Care that is available full-time and year-round. Very few parents indicated they only need care during the school year or only during the summer.
• Care focused on serving children ages 0 to 12. Research shows the need is equal across all ages, with the demand for school age care being slightly higher during the summer than it is during the school year.
• Based on preferences of parents, a facility located within the community of Belmond.
First Children’s Finance recommends the Belmond-Klemme Community School District move forward in its efforts to develop a new child care center located in Belmond, using the data and research from
this analysis to inform the operational assumptions and the number of children to be served.
The complete 59-page market analysis report can be found at: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?s mk=112065, or by clicking on the link found at www.belmondnews.com.
This analysis is the first step in a three-phase project. FCF will next develop a financial model for sustainable operation of a daycare facility. Developing that model will take approximately four months after the school board determines if a daycare facility is something the district should tackle on its own or in conjunction with a non-profit group. That discussion will take place at the Aug. 15 meeting.
The final phase is development of a business plan.