Holy Cross, surrounding communities assessing child care needs through survey

HOLY CROSS, Iowa — An online survey is assessing child care needs in several rural communities in Dubuque, Delaware and Clayton counties.

The survey, facilitated by Child Care Resource & Referral of Northeast Iowa, was put together after Holy Cross Mayor Brian Maiers heard that community members were having trouble finding child care services.

“We had (Dubuque Bank & Trust) close here in town, and we were trying to figure out what to do with the building,” Maiers said. “We sent out a survey to residents, and one of the prominent themes was to open a day care.”

The survey then was launched in the first week of July to residents of Holy Cross and surrounding communities, including Luxemburg, Balltown, Rickardsville, Colesburg and North Buena Vista.

In addition to finding out what challenges people face in finding child care, the survey will gather data on how many children need services, the ages of those children and the dates and times when people most need child care.

Maiers said the survey results will help determine what further action needs to be taken in providing more child care services in the area.

He noted that at-home child care options have dwindled in the Holy Cross area, making it difficult for families to find services close to home.

“There’s nothing out here as far as an organized business,” he said. “Dyersville’s got the Kid Project. Peosta’s got the (Northeast Iowa Community College Child Development) Center. But you go north of Highway 20, there’s absolutely nothing.”

Tara Roddick, child care consultant supervisor for Child Care Resource & Referral of Northeast Iowa, said at-home child care providers are the most common options in rural communities that might not be able to sustain a child care center.

However, she said there’s not enough at-home providers to provide space to every family in need. Families then might have to travel out of their way for child care.

“If you are dropping a child off in a rural area far from work, then you’re paying more and using more hours,” Roddick said. “We say that instead of a 40-hour work week, you probably have a 45-hour child care week. If you have to drive a half-hour for child care, you’re adding an hour to your day.”

While a child care needs survey hasn’t been conducted in this area for a while, Roddick said Child Care Resource & Referral of Northeast Iowa has previously conducted similar surveys in its 19-county region. Data from those surveys have resulted in a child care center or providing stipends to at-home providers.

However, Roddick noted that the survey might find that a majority of families are happy with their child care situation, noting that those who work in Dubuque might have a child care provider near their workplace.

“You hear from a couple of people (about needing services), and that gets in your ear,” she said. “This asks, ‘Is it more than just a couple people?’”

Those wishing to take the survey can do so at surveymonkey.com/r/YZJGY9P until July 31.