116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa’s child care crisis grew worse this week when Kids Inc. Cedar Rapids abruptly closed permanently, sending parents and schools scrambling to try to find a replacement.
In a letter to families Wednesday, Kids Inc. owner Becky McNeal said she and the staff have worked “endlessly” to keep the Cedar Rapids center running. But “it is time for me to face the realities of the current situation in which I have absolutely no control.”
While the center was scheduled to close Friday, families were alerted Thursday morning it would not open again because of low staffing. The center was unable to operate because it did not meet Department of Human Services regulations. Any prepaid tuition will be refunded, McNeal said in the letter.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been “devastating” to day care centers, including Kids Inc., McNeal wrote.
The center served about 60 families. It was open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and provided before- and after-school child care programs for all College Community elementary schools and Grant Elementary in Cedar Rapids.
The College Community School District is working with community organizations to assist families in finding care.
“We are very concerned for the families, especially since there is already a shortage of quality day care options,” said Steve Doser, College Community director of community relations. “We are continuing to investigate options to help the impacted families.”
Kids Inc. Marion will remain open and has limited spaces for families who were enrolled in Kids Inc. Cedar Rapids.
McNeal did not respond to requests for an interview.
When many school districts went to virtual instruction last fall to mitigate a surging spread of COVID-19, families turned to Kids Inc. for help. The center rushed to provide child care to more families, particularly in the College Community School District, and to help kids log on to virtual learning during the day.
Over the past five years, Iowa has lost 33 percent of its child care businesses and the state is short 350,000 child care slots for children younger than 12 years old, according to the Iowa Governor's Office. Twenty-three percent of Iowans live in child care “deserts” — areas with shortages of licensed providers.
Comments: (319) 398-8411; email@example.com