Grinnell Chamber

Child Care Study


Grinnell Child Care Study

Earlier this year, Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce along with our partners and with assistance from First Children’s Finance surveyed Grinnell and the surrounding area on child care needs. This past Wednesday, June 20th, community members and business leaders met at Grinnell Mutual for an initial meeting to reveal the results this study.

According to a 2017 report from the Center for American Progress, Poweshiek County was declared a Childcare Desert. In an effort to address the situation, the childcare feasibility study commenced to better understand the child care needs in Grinnell. The study was guided by First Children’s Finance, a national non-profit organization with an office in Iowa which specializes in developing childcare feasibility studies and strategic plans. For the past six months, their team has been conducting surveys among Grinnell employers and current parents as well as future parents, analyzing the results of the surveys, and collecting general data.

First Children’s Finance shared eight key findings in Wednesday’s presentation:

  1. As of the latest census data in 2016, Grinnell is seeing a growing community population but a shrinking youth population. There are 1,494 children ages 0 to 12 living in the 50112 zip code which is down from 1,712 in 2000.
  2. US Census Bureau data show 78% of families with children ages 0 to 5 have all parents in the labor force and therefore need child care.
  3. According to the survey conducted, Grinnell parents prefer regulated child care settings which may include licensed centers and registered child development homes.
  4. Parents have difficulty finding care; 66% of parents surveyed found it difficult to find care in Grinnell.
  5. Declining regulated childcare spaces is also a key factor. Data from Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral indicates that Poweshiek County lost a total of 275 regulated child care spaces, and 22 DHS regulated child care providers since 2012.
  6. The shortage of childcare spaces in Grinnell is apparent as there are an estimated 1,494 children ages 0 to 12 living in the 50112 zip code but only 498 regulated spaces (290 if year-round spaces are considered) which leaves a shortfall of 960 spaces in ages birth through 12 years in need of care, with the largest gap identified in school-age children.
  7. Parents indicate childcare is affecting their employment with parents noting in the survey they have had to miss a day of work, leave early or arrive late due to problems with childcare.
  8. Child care staff is the most important factor to parents with 41% of current parents surveyed indicating dependable staff/provider as their number one choice of factors to consider when choosing childcare.

First Children’s Finance recommended increasing the number of regulated spaces by 515 over a number of age groups (0 to 12) to meet the future demand of childcare in Grinnell, engaging local employers in the conversation, and implementing a steering committee to further address the childcare shortage.

The results of the feasibility study serve as a starting point as the community addresses options and solutions for childcare in Grinnell. A steering committee will meet next Tuesday, June 26 at 6pm to begin addressing next steps and will work to develop sub-committees who will tackle several issues pertaining to the future of childcare in Grinnell. Those interested in remaining, or becoming, involved in this process are encouraged to attend the steering committee meeting and can RSVP to Rachael Kinnick with the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce at or Amy Blanchard with JMP Early Childhood Iowa at

The feasibility study was collectively funded by Brownell’s, Claude & Dolly Ahrens Foundation, City of Grinnell, Grinnell College, Grinnell Mutual, and Unity Point Health – Grinnell Regional Medical Center and has been administered by the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce, Poweshiek Iowa Developent, and JMP Early Childhood Iowa.

The completed feasibility study can be viewed and downloaded here.

Questions regarding the feasibility study and its process can be directed to Kinnick at the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce at 236-6555 or Blanchard at JMP ECI at 236-5518.

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