A Dubuque child care center is poised to open a second location that will serve more than 100 children and allow the center to offer expanded second-shift care.
Romper Room Childcare Center, 1275 Main St., will be a sister location to Romper Stompers Childcare Center, located at 2307 Central Ave.
Renee Krier, owner and director of both Romper Stompers and Romper Room, said she aims to open the new facility by Nov. 1. Last weekend, Romper Room hosted an open house for current families and interested customers ahead of the official grand opening.
Krier said the new facility should be able to accommodate up to 120 children from 6 weeks to 8 years old. Currently, Romper Stompers can care for 54 children at a time, but has had difficulty serving both parents who work during the day and those who work a night shift.
“I had noticed that there was a barrier between when first shift got off and when second shift started, so there was an overlap for parents needing to find a second location (for child care) until we had spots open at 3 or 4 (p.m.),” said Krier, later adding, “We had to turn quite a few people away daily.”
Now, Romper Room will be open from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. to serve children whose parents work the first shift, while Romper Stompers will be open from 1:30 to 10:30 p.m. for children of second-shift parents.
Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce President Molly Grover described second-shift childcare as “absolutely a critical need.”
“The workforce needs aren’t just simply 8 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.),” she said. “We have businesses and industries that come in all shapes and sizes in our community, and our workforce has a diverse need of child care hours. Having a second shift available to our community is really a game changer, and we’re really pleased to see that being part of (Romper Room’s) business plan.”
Remodeling the 1275 Main St. building was a pandemic project for Krier and her eight children.
“We gutted it down to the brick and started fresh during COVID,” she said.
In January, Romper Stompers was one of eight Dubuque programs to receive a grant from Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Department of Human Services. The $452,591 award helped fund the already-ongoing remodel process.
Krier is particularly excited that the Romper Room facility has bathrooms within each room, as well as a larger play area for children. She also hopes to establish partnerships with area organizations located near the new facility, including Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dubuque and St. Mark Youth Enrichment.
“With being downtown, I believe the opportunities of the kids getting out and involved with more people … and being able to explore down there will be a little bit easier,” she said.
Romper Stompers currently employs 26 staff members, and Krier said she expects to add at least that many at the new Romper Room facility once it is fully staffed.