Linn County has lost 41% of its child care businesses over the past five years. Lack of affordable, quality child care has many negative impacts on people and communities. Like employers across the region, employers in the MedQuarter Regional Medical District recognize the impact that lack of access to quality and affordable child care can have on employee recruitment and retention.
The MedQuarter recently contracted with Mills Consulting Group of Framingham, MA to perform a feasibility study to research the viability of building a child care center in the District. There are three major components to the study:
1) Child care needs assessment survey
2) On-site focus group meetings
and stakeholder interviews
3) Final report
A child care needs assessment survey was sent to all MedQuarter businesses and 12 business in Downtown Cedar Rapids in September. The assessment survey gathered information about parents’ current and future child care arrangements and needs. Insights were gathered on the demographic and socio-economic composition of the market area, market demand for child care by age and socio-economic status, access to child care, current child care arrangements and costs and child care needs such as scheduling, back-up care, sick child care and the effects of child care issues on work. A total of 849 people participated in the survey, of which 729 have or are planning to have children age 10 or younger in the next three years. A total of 849 people participated in the survey, of which 729 have or are planning to have children age 10 or younger in the next three years.
Mills Consulting Group conducted on-site focus group meetings and stakeholder interviews in October. Interviews with 33 employees and nine employer representatives gathered greater detail on the current landscape of child care in the area, and provided a first-hand look at key issues that parents are dealing with in balancing their work and family issues. While here, Mills Consulting Group also met with representatives from Linn County Community Services – Early Childhood Iowa to discuss child care issues on a county and statewide basis and with a developer who specializes in child care facilities to discuss local codes, requirements and costs for daycare facilities.
The final report will be presented in December. The report will include a summary of data collected as well as key findings from the data, information on competition and pricing of child care in the local area, information on child care assistance currently available to families, management model options for child care centers and approximate capital costs for a child care center in the MedQuarter District.
After the final report is received, the Medical Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District Commission will begin the work of determining whether the issues uncovered in the process can be addressed by creating a child care center that provides the services needed.