St. Timothy Lutheran Church Takes on Community’s Child Care Crisis
November 20, 2019
St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Hudson has been serving its community by offering ecumenical preschool services for 25 years. With numbers on the decline, the congregation reached out to the community for answers and overwhelmingly, one thing was missing community-wide.
“Child care, child care, child care. There’s not enough child care in the Hudson Community School District,” said Clara Nehmer, director of preschool and child care. “Parents were using other child care in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Traer, and Reinbeck.”
In August 2019, St. Timothy Lutheran expanded its services to include child care for three-year-olds to fifth-grade children. The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa granted $15,000 to help meet the child care needs in Hudson. The result has been a total enrollment of 24 children with plans to increase that number.
“Because we’ve had the funding for staff, our tuition resources are being utilized for other needs for the program,” said Clara. “It’s been a great starting point for us and has given us that solid foundation that we needed to get started.”
Being able to hire and keep quality staff with fair wages and benefits is one major contributor to the child care crisis in Iowa. Clara understands having resources to do this is key. “Having the resources to know I can keep staff because we do have the funding no matter if my enrollment is one or two kids short is huge,” said Clara. “One child leaving or coming can make a difference between what you can pay your staff and the ability to have security has been fantastic.”
For Hudson, like many other rural Iowa communities, having child care is more than a convenience, it is an important piece of attracting and keeping families. “It’s just a sustainability thing so families can move into the area knowing there is child care, and that it’s good child care that they can trust when they go to work,” said Clara.
It’s also good for families. “It’s easier for the parents. They’re not spending as much time driving to a Waterloo or Cedar Falls daycare. They’re driving right here in the community, so it gives more family time,” said Clara. “They’re not spending as much time in the car driving from Cedar Falls daycare to a Reinbeck job. It’s been really good for the community to help it grow.”