The Bloomfield City Council acted in typical fashion last Thursday night when it “kicked the can down the road” in response to a request for forgiveness of utility expenses for Davis County Day Care for the remainder of the year.
Daycare representatives Joni Helton and Lisa Collier recounted the frustration Day Care officials have faced in the past two years since the facility was flooded when the installation of a fiber optic cable penetrated a sewer line and flooded the facility. (See council and Helton articles on the front page for details.)
Council members showed little compassion for families and those charged with keeping the facility open as one councilman suggested a rate increase to cover expenses (the facility already charges $25 per day for one child). They asked for detailed information on finances — which is not a bad idea, except the day care is facing a $22,000 USDA loan payment and needs help soon, and questioned whether the council could or should make an investment in the day care.
The council left day care officials with the request for more information — which Helton and Collier agreed to supply — and little indication of whether or not they had any intent to assist.
The council should not stall on this issue. Sixty-four day care facilities in Iowa receive financial aid of some kind to keep their doors open, and Davis County with its 51% free and reduced school lunch rate should be one of them.
Out of the 55 families served by Davis County Day Care, 22 receive state funds to cover their day care expenses.
Many families in Davis County cannot afford increased daycare rates. Even Mutchler Center Director Taylor Sessions — who has a degree and works full-time at her job — told the council it takes half of her wages each month to pay childcare expenses for the couple’s two children.
Even if subsidizing day care results in a slight increase in property taxes, the council should prioritize and put the needs of the community’s children first.
Davis County Schools have seen an escalation of behavior problems and a lack of school readiness in the community’s children in the last two years. Many parents are charged with working more than one job to provide for their families, and, for one reason or another, don’t have the time or take the time to give their children the attention they need. These children, especially, need the experience of quality day care programs that provide educational and healthy socialization experiences — and yes, even love.
When children are prepared for and succeed in school, the whole community benefits as its young people successfully go out into the world. When inadequate childhood experiences hinder a child’s future, those young adults will likely stay in the community and become a burden to society.
When communities provide quality and affordable day care, new families seeking to move will be much more likely to choose Davis County as a place of residence. Many in Davis County are working hard to increase the population and economic situation of the county and want to see Davis County Day Care remain viable.
The city council should take action to provide for the community’s most important resource — its children. The first step is placing our children at the top of the priority list and assist in providing quality childcare.
Second, a city council representative should be on the Davis County Day Care Board. Jerry Kincart served in this position in the early years of the day care, and the council knew what needed to be done to help the day care succeed.
Third, the council should be doing all it can to alleviate poverty and provide a quality lifestyle for its residents.
A good place to begin is by attending the “Bridges out of Poverty” workshop being presented at Fairfield High School Feb. 24. The workshop is free courtesy of Pathfinders RC&D.
An article on the workshop and how to register can be found on page 3A of this newspaper.