CAREforce begins in Tama County

Iowa Women’s Foundation, Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa Launch ‘CAREforce for our WORKforce” in Support of Child Care Professionals

Pictured are two Tama-Toledo child care providers that are participating in the CAREforce for our WORKforce program. On the left is Diane Novak from Tama and on the right is Melissa Johnson from Toledo. Both are standing with some of the kids they care for. Photos Provided

Iowa Women’s Foundation, Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa Launch ‘CAREforce for our WORKforce” in Support of Child Care Professionals

By Erin Monahan

VINTON, IA – Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa and the Iowa Women’s Foundation (IWF) have joined forces to launch a campaign to increase the recognition of child care providers as essential, professional workers. The statewide campaign, the CAREforce for our WORKforce, will also provide the public with information on how they can support child care providers during and after the pandemic.

Pre-COVID-19, Benton and Tama Counties had a shortfall of over 5,400 total child care spaces.

There were 4.3 children needing care for every one slot available in Benton County and 4.7 in Tama County. To make matters worse, we had lost 28% and 29% of our child care programs in Benton and Tama Counties respectively over the last 5 years.

Community leaders came together to identify viable doable community solutions to address this issue and increase the availability of quality affordable child care.

“We are helping child care centers grow their workforce and continue their care through the pandemic and on,” said Kecia Appleby, Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa Board Chair.

“We are working alongside elected officials and passionate community activists to get legislation on the books that supports Iowa’s working families. And we are educating local businesses on why child care matters to their bottom lines,” “This is why, it is important that we work together and support IWF’s efforts in recognizing the tremendous role child care professionals play in the lives of our children, families, businesses and communities.”

Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa and IWF are currently distributing window clings, stickers, posters, and yard signs emblazed with the CAREforce for our WORKforce logo. IWF has also launched a web page with information for those interested in helping their local providers.

“Child care workers are not babysitters, they are highly-trained professionals who provide the critical early childhood support kids need for success later in life,” said Dawn Oliver Wiand, Executive Director for IWF. “They’re essential for parents. They’re essential for businesses. And they are essential for society as we know it.”

The Iowa Women’s Foundation, that has found success with previous initiatives to bolster Iowa’s child care industry, said community-wide support will play an important role in the campaign’s effectiveness.

“Without the resources and support needed to survive, providers are closing their doors at alarming rates and many will not be able to reopen. We need a coordinated effort to stem this tide,” said Ms. Wiand. “That starts, first and foremost, with getting everyone in our state-parents, grandparents, business leaders, elected officials-to recognize child care providers as the essential professionals they are.”

Individuals looking to support their local child care professionals can visit https://iawf.org/careforce for a list of supplies and services that can be donated.

Those interested in participating in the CAREforce for our WORKforce campaign as a volunteer may contact dawn@iawf.org for more information. Individuals and businesses in Benton and Tama counties that would like to show their support for child care professionals by displaying CAREforce posters, yard signs or window clings may contact director@bettertomorrowseci.org to order those items.

Kids Corner