day care

Bellevue has a problem - but in a way, it’s certainly a good problem to have.

The thing is, families seem to be having plenty of children, so there’s a lot of toddlers running around. But at the same time, there’s also a lack of daycare providers in the community.

And, after hearing that one of the busier in-home daycare providers will soon cease to provide childcare, the Bellevue City Council recently formed a Daycare Committee in search of a solution.

Headed up by Bellevue Mayor Roger Michels and City Administrator and City Clerk Abbey Skrivseth, the new committee is seeking people who are interested in providing daycare in the Bellevue community.

“Demand is high for in home day care or a new daycare center,” said Skrivseth. “Anyone who is interested should contact Bellevue City Hall for help, advice and perhaps even a job shadowing opportunity.”

The new daycare committee recently sent a survey to 10 daycare providers in Bellevue and near Bellevue, with nine responding. The question posed was “how many more years do you plan to provide child care before retiring or quitting?”

Five daycares said 5 to 10 years; two said 2 to 3 years, one said 10-15 years and one day care said they would be closing in less than a year.

The survey also asked “what advice would you offer someone who is interested in starting a daycare business?

Some responses included “If you love children, then this job is very fulfilling,” and “Helping kids grow and learn each day is one of the most rewarding things about my job.”

A study from 2018 from the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities at Iowa State University (in conjunction with the Jackson County Economic Alliance) was also presented to the committee by Dave Heiar and Nic Hockenberry.

The study says that day care services are in short supply across the area, child care is one of the first barriers families encounter when planning to move to Jackson County.

“Most providers are at or near capacity, and parents struggle to find adequate in-home providers without a personal connection,” the study stated. “This shortage can deter families with young children.”

The study said that in addition, families with young children may also question whether it is feasible to stay in the area without easily accessible child care.

“The alternative is for a parent to stay at home with the child or find a family to help, which can strain a household’s income without social support, of which most new residents have little. In extreme cases, this may cause a family to move away,” the study stated.

As well as a few in-home (unregistered) day care providers in Bellevue, there is only one registered day care service in Bellevue, St. Joseph’s Daycare, which serves approximately 90 children each year and is also at near or full capacity. Officials at the day care have discussed expansion of those services in recent years.

Still, officials say more services are needed in Bellevue, and in Jackson County as a whole.

“It is clear from research and conversations with county stakeholders that child care is a challenge in terms of supply and affordability,” the study concluded.