Summit to address regional child care need scheduled for October 9

DUBUQUE, IOWA — A lack of child care options in the Dubuque region is negatively impacting the quality of life for many families while simultaneously making it hard for businesses to hire workers who need viable child care options during work hours.

To address this regional problem, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque — in partnership with the Greater Dubuque Development Corp., Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral, Iowa Women’s Foundation and Jackson County Economic Alliance — is hosting the first Child Care Solutions Summit from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, October 9, at the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque. The summit is an opportunity for a diverse group of individuals — including parents, employers, community leaders and child care providers — to work together and begin devising ways to address the child care challenge.

“As it exists now, the model for providing child care is in need of repair, and fixing it requires collaboration,” says Nancy Van Milligen, president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. “By bringing many different voices into the conversation, we can make child care work for everyone in the region and drive systemic change together.”

The Child Care Solutions Summit is two years in the making. It stems from a community needs assessment conducted by the Community Foundation in 2016, in which residents identified lack of available child care as one of the biggest barriers to opportunity for Dubuque-area residents.

From the needs assessment, the Community Foundation discovered that high-quality child care is more than scarce — some communities in the Dubuque region have no child care options at all.

Subsequently, students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management analyzed the child care landscape in Dubuque and identified a need to change conceptions about child care’s role in the community. Specifically, child care must be identified as “critical infrastructure that supports working families and drives economic growth,” according to MIT’s June 2018 report.

“A number of major employers in Dubuque have explicitly told us that prime candidates have had to turn down job offers due to a lack of viable child care options,” says Jason Neises, community development coordinator for the Community Foundation. “When we hear this, it becomes clear to us that change needs to occur. I’m confident that this summit will be an important step in driving that change.”