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'One of the most important things': Donors see big picture in Micah House childcare center

Posted at 6:45 PM, Jul 10, 2024

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — Micah House is celebrating the opening of the Florence M. Lakin Child Development Center. It started with a conversation between staff and board members who realized that a lack of affordable childcare is a barrier for Micah House clients in their efforts to find stability.

  • “If every single person helped just one other person, we’d all be in, I mean, everybody would be helped and everything would be much, much better,” said Maryann Farrell, a longtime Micah House donor and retired educator.
  • “The minimum wage here in Iowa is $7.25. You can’t afford $1000 for your rent, and you can’t afford a $1000 for your childcare, so how can you work?” childcare center director, Jess McGee said.
  • Learn more: lakinchildcare.org

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

There’s simply not enough childcare in Southwest Iowa. I’m your neighborhood reporter, Katrina Markel, at the brand-new Florence M. Lakin Child Development Center in Council Bluffs.

I’m here because folks are hoping that this new center will solve some of this community’s childcare concerns.

“If every single person helped just one other person, we’d all be in, I mean, everybody would be helped and everything would be much, much better,” said Maryann Farrell, a longtime Micah House donor and retired educator.

Farrell helped a lot more than just one person when she donated, in memory of her sons Michael and Adam, to the (Florence M.) Lakin Child Development Center, affiliated with the Micah House shelter next door.

Five years in the making, Council Bluffs neighbors recently celebrated the center’s opening.

Executive Director Ashley Flater says it started with a conversation about the biggest barriers Micah House clients face on the road to stability.

“One of those things that we identified was childcare,” she said.

According to the Iowa Women’s Foundation, one-fourth of Iowans live in an underserved area when it comes to childcare.

The average cost of infant care in Pottawattamie County is unrealistic for many families, says childcare center director, Jess McGee.

“The minimum wage here in Iowa is $7.25. You can’t afford $1000 for your rent, and you can’t afford a $1000 for your childcare, so how can you work?” McGee said.

Flater and McGee point to research that links quality early childhood education to lifelong success and the availability of daycare to better economic outcomes.

“We have donors and foundations who see the value in providing education for kids in our community, especially those who are experiencing homelessness,” said Flater.

“High-quality childcare, so that people can work, make a living, not be stressed about money is probably one of the most important things we can provide,” Farrell said.

The childcare center welcomes children starting Monday and enrollment is open to the community as well as Micah House clients.