Putting children and families first in Dyersville


With more than 30 babies and 15 toddlers on a waiting list, families in the Dyersville area are anxiously anticipating the opening of the Michael and Jean Knepper Child Care Center - A Kid Project Partnership. The 17,500-square foot facility will add 131 new child care slots to the community, enabling more parents to access affordable, high-quality care and join the workforce. 

This project is the next phase of the Dyersville Area Community Foundation’s efforts to improve local access to child care. Those efforts began with the Kid Project Community Child Care Center, which the Foundation has operated for more than three decades. Now, the Foundation is partnering with Dyersville Economic Development Corporation to create the new facility. The project began with a $1.75 million grant from the State of Iowa, and the community is pitching in to contribute an additional $4.25 million to make this vision a reality. 

With just over $1 million left to raise, the Community Foundation continues to anticipate the needs of Kid Project families. Twice as many staff will be needed when the new building opens, and when area in-home providers begin to retire, the need will grow. 

“Providing safe, affordable child care in our community is one of our ways of giving back, filling a gap and assisting families,” says Sheila Tegeler, Foundation board chair. “And with 45 kids on a waiting list, it’s also a workforce issue.” 

Tegeler is part of a leadership committee that has connected with business owners like Mike Decker. Decker encouraged the committee to locate the new facility in the industrial park so working families would have their children nearby. “Keeping families closer together provides simplicity for parents, ease of mind in emergencies, and an enticing bonus for future employees,” he says. 

Decker isn’t the only one enthusiastic about this community asset. Ninety-three-year-old Michael Knepper made a $1 million gift to the effort. “I’m feeling excited about the project,” he says. “It brings tears to my eyes.” 

The Foundation works with people like Knepper to invest in the community today in support of future generations. 

“In a rural area, you need your hospitals, fire departments, libraries and daycare centers to thrive and grow,” says Michelle Grover, executive director of the Foundation.