The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

May 3, 2013

Combined effort generates more day care options

YMCA, Seton, school district joining forces to launch programs to fill child care gap

OTTUMWA — Day care options are expanding in Ottumwa after several organizations learned of a large gap in services.

Melissa Schuttlefield, parent of a toddler at Ottumwa Regional Health Center's Child Development Center slated to close on May 24, says the Ottumwa YMCA, Seton Catholic School and the Ottumwa Community School District are all stepping up to help fill the need for day care in the community.

Since a meeting between Indian Hills Community College, ORHC and parents on April 9, Indian Hills President Jim Lindenmayer has held meetings with local businesses and parents to look for options.

This week, several organizations met to plan how each would take on a more significant role in day care.

Indian Hills' Child Development Center will take on 32 of the 76 displaced children.

"Several families sought out alternative care, leaving 26 children that IHCC was not able to accommodate who did ask to be put on the IHCC waiting list," said Jill Budde, dean of health occupations.

The Ottumwa YMCA plans to expand its Discovery Lane Early Childhood Development Program to add 25 children to its current 100, a process executive director Tom Sisler hopes will be solidified by late May or early June.

"Some [families] have already registered or are ready to register," Sisler said. "We are moving around some of the classrooms so we can become more efficient and increase capacity for some of the transitioning childcare families."

Seton also launched its first-ever after-school program this spring, running from 3-6 p.m. The school is also looking into whether there's a need for child care before school that could run from 6-8 a.m.

"Through this, they're recognizing even more that there's a need, and they're doing something about it," Schuttlefield said.

While the school district has unlimited space for its half-day program for 4-year-old preschoolers — which is free to parents — a decision was made to add a section of all-day care for 16 to 20 4-year-old pre-schoolers this fall, which will require tuition, said Superintendent Davis Eidahl, because "I understand a half-day doesn't work for some families."

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