Early childhood experiences put children on a path for success

Tammy was a desperate mother who called Cedar Valley Preschool and Child Care for help.

Tammy’s oldest daughter, age 12, could stay home after school, but her nine year old and two year old sons needed services urgently.  After calling 41 providers and trying an unregistered home provider for a month, the “red flags” were profuse.  Her oldest son, Rob, had told her stories she found hard to believe, such as the dog nipping at them, the caregiver calling them names, etc. Rob began thinking he just wanted to stay home like his sister does.

But when the two year old, Tanner, started having night terrors and stopped talking, Tammy began to realize how serious the issues were. Additionally, she personally observed many children, some infants and children with special needs, in her provider’s home. Thankfully there was a space for the two year old child in the Cedar Valley Preschool Program, and Tammy was referred to Child Care Resources & Referral for her older son.  She found another option for him, as well.

The transformation of the two year old was nothing short of miraculous. Within the first week there were smiles, as trust slowly started building in an atmosphere of nurturing care. He was excited about the activities, new friends, and playground. Within three weeks his speech was returning and night terrors nearly eliminated.

We’re sharing Tammy’s story to highlight the critical need in the Cedar Valley for quality, registered/licensed preschool and child care.

According to July 2014 statistics gathered by Child Care Resource & Referral, 72% of working families have children under age six. That is 10,171 children in the Cedar Valley.  Another 6,403 children are in the next age group, six through nine. However, there are only 7,638 total spaces representing 442 programs listed. The gap is staggering.

Many families are turned away from daycare or put on waiting lists every day. Our children’s and community’s future depend on quality child care. Lack of affordable, quality daycare prevents some parents from working and keeps them from achieving financial independence.

This fall United Way hosted a forum with Iowa DHS Bureau Chief for Child Care to talk about improve access, safety and quality of child care programs in the Cedar Valley. United Way’s role is to bring the people together to find a solution so that kids like Tanner and Rob can get the best possible start to life.