T&C Presents a check to to the Hailton County Childcare Coalition
The Hamilton County Childcare Coalition, formed in the fall of 2020, found a way to boost the wages of a childcare worker with the support of private businesses: the Childcare Worker Recruitment and Retention Fund. Private entities contribute to the fund, which then subsidizes the daycare wages and offers bonuses for new hires. For example, current retention bonuses start at $2.85 for each hour worked; that means a daycare worker who typically earns $10 an hour in reality earns $12.85. Recruitment bonuses range from $250 to $550.
More than $710,000 has been raised or pledged to the fund; of that, $277,000 is public money; $433,078 is through private contribution, typically at a rate of $125 per employee annually. It should be noted that that is an employer’s contribution; it does not come from the employees themselves.
The plan, according to the Hamilton County Childcare Coalition, has worked. As of April 30, 65 additional children were attending one of the four participating childcare centers in Hamilton County. To date, $138,000 in bonuses have been paid; childcare workers have earned quarterly bonuses averaging $471.26 a quarter.
Here’s what else the coalition learned through research: On average, a parent misses about two weeks worth of work in a full year due to child care issues. Nonprofit daycare centers do not have the funding to increase wages on their own. A comparison with surrounding counties showed that Hamilton County rates were in the top highest; therefore, increasing rates would phase lower income families out. In Hamilton County, child care is estimated to eat up 14.1% of household budgets, those households cited being adults ages 25-44. The coalition is a broad umbrella under which the partnership of Building Families an Early Childhood Iowa Area Board, the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation, Hamilton County, the City of Webster City, Van Diest Supply Co., and dozens of other employers and individuals contribute, according to coalition records.
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The fund is administered by Doug Follmann, Cindy Im and Building Families.