By Corridor Business Journal staff

As the child care crisis deepens in Iowa, Waypoint Services has found a way to help employers recruit and retain workers with children, as well as show appreciation for the support it receives from the business community.

The 125-year-old nonprofit began offering child care discounts to employers with significant numbers of employees needing the service two years ago. It now works with five companies in the Cedar Rapids metro area.

"When we started working on this concept two years ago, we wanted to be able to give back and support the community, rather than being the organization out there asking for something all of the time," CEO Jaye Kennedy said.

Waypoint provides child care and services to support women and families in crisis, including domestic violence advocacy services, shelter and housing. Needs are high in all three areas, Kennedy said, and the nonprofit's frequent asks are not unjustified.

Looking at what Waypoint could do to return the support it receives from businesses, day care assistance became an obvious area. The organization's licensed child care program, KidsPoint, serves about 536 children and infants at its main facility and a satellite space; it also offers before- and after-school programs at both centers and at nine Cedar Rapids public schools.

The cost of child care and the shortage of available spaces have become major impediments to employment for single parents and families of limited means. Iowa has lost 42 percent of its child care operations listed with Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral in the last five years.

"We're at that tipping point," said Chris Kivett-Berry, community project director for Linn County's Early Childhood Iowa program. "Even though the child care industry has been expressing their concern, now it's gone out into the business community, and it's become a serious concern because of the connection between the child care crisis and the shortage of workers." 

This story originally appeared in the CBJ Business Daily.
Read the full members-only story in a recent digital edition of the CBJ.