To continue evolving this program to meet the changing needs of its workforce, support from senior leadership throughout the company who truly understand the value of providing these services to its employees has been crucial.
childcare spaces needed to meet demand
The Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral Program reports that employees with inadequate access to affordable childcare are more likely to be late for work, absent, or distracted while at work than parents who are comfortable with their childcare arrangements. On a national level, businesses stand to lose around $3 billion annually due to employee absenteeism as the result of childcare breakdowns.
Over the past five years, the state of Iowa lost 42% of registered childcare providers and at the same time is ranked first in the nation for the number of families in the state where both parents are working outside of the home. The total picture of the resulting childcare shortage is 359,000 spaces, a challenge that some employers in the community decided to take on.
In Cedar Rapids, a small group of employers partnered to develop a childcare solution that would allow each company to benefit from the in-demand services while sharing the costs. With support from senior leadership, this collaborative of employers relied on subject matter experts at the Cedar Rapids Community School District to manage the program and ensure a quality learning atmosphere with activities that allow for optimal developmental progress in each child.
Due to success of that initiative and continued high demand from within the community, the Collins Aerospace Day Academy was built. This comprehensive and high-quality early education program supports the needs of employee families, including grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, and children with special needs. In addition, whenever possible, the facility is open to the general public and for drop-in childcare as well.
No one in early childhood education workforce solutions is an island. To get this initiative running with high-quality results, the employers relied on subject matter experts from the Cedar Rapids Community School District to manage the childcare program.
Additional partners included:
Cedar Rapids Community School District
Aramark- Quality Food Service
State of Iowa Department of Human Services
National Association for the Education of Young Children
Linn Mar School District- State Wide Preschool
enrolled in the program with 100 more on the waiting list
including summer camp, extended day support, and statewide preschool
indoors, as well as outdoor play areas and indoor multipurpose spaces
Supporting All of Iowa’s Children
To make sure they are supporting the needs of all employee’s children, the Collins Aerospace Day Academy partners with the local school districts and Grant Wood Area Education Agency to provide services to children with special needs. These services include speech, occupational, and physical therapy for children who need the extra development support. Through the Grant Wood Area Education Agency, the staff also receive support on how to work with children who have been diagnosed with challenging behaviors or autism.
For some children, an evaluation or consultation with professionals outside the program or additional services might be needed to ensure the child can be successfully supported in the program, but that coordination becomes a wraparound service of the program.