Cerro Gordo County supervisors show support for childcare initiative, balk at making financial contribution

MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors is showing their support for an initiative to make sure every child in Cerro Gordo County has access to reliable child care, but the board has stalled on making a financial contribution to the coalition.

The Cerro Gordo County Child Care Works coalition’s goal is to raise $600,000 by the end of the business day on Wednesday in an effort to get another $600,000 in matching funds from the state. The money would be used to help boost employee pay at 10 child care centers in the county who are understaffed, and in turn with more staff being hired, opening up daycare slots in those centers.

The supervisors during their regular board meeting on Monday approved a show of support, but during a workshop session held prior to the meeting, supervisors chair Casey Callanan said the board wasn’t ready to put a dollar figure on how much support they would show.  “I don’t know what kind of commitment you want from us, or Clear Lake is waiting to see what the county does, the county is waiting to see what Mason City does.  I’m supportive of it, but I’m hesitant to give you a number right here because of where we are at. I don’t know how that plays out with what you are trying to accomplish.”

Kelli Gerdes of the Cerro Gordo County Department of Health is part of the coalition and hopes the supervisors can figure out a dollar figure by late tomorrow afternoon so they can pencil in that to their pledge fund.  “If you want your money matched, we’ve got to figure out a dollar amount. That way we can pencil it in at the state level. Now we can take the next however many months to raise that money or to get it into a bank account or whatever. We just need to let the state know what we have locally that we want matched. That would be just figuring out that dollar amount that’s going toward our fund, and then we can turn around and tell the state this is what we are penciled out, and we have ‘x’ amount of months to raise that or get it into our bank account.”

  The initiative’s wage supplement program aims to use funds to raise employee pay by $2 an hour at 10 child care centers in the county, making the average wage more competitive and the industry more attractive for workers. For more, head to the website childcareworksnorthiowa.com