There’s a growing need for child care providers in north-central Iowa as the massive Prestage Foods pork processing plant plans to open near Eagle Grove soon. It’s estimated the plant will be employ nearly one-thousand workers.

McKinley Bailey, executive director of Building Families in Clarion, says the shortage of quality child care providers could quickly reach the crisis stage.

Bailey says, “We’re real concerned because right now, even before the Prestage plant has opened and we’ve had an influx of new residents to the area, every center in Hamilton, Humboldt and Wright counties already has a waiting list.” One area day care provider recently said they had a waiting list of 18 babies, all under a year old.

“Right now, we don’t have enough room in quality child care settings to take care of all the kids in the area,” Bailey says. “So, when we have hundreds of new children and families move in, we’re going to be in a real bind.”

Building Families is working to address the child care situation in the region by offering a series of training events for day care operators.

“We can send in child care and nurse consultants to help the operators insure they have a safe environment, a clean environment,” Bailey says, “that they’re preparing food properly and doing all the things safety-wise they need to do.”

The agency also works to help day care operators to provide learning opportunities so kids aren’t just watching TV all day but learning and interacting with adults and other kids. Building Families also plans to offer grants for equipment and for improvements that could increase capacity.

The Prestage plant is expected to begin limited production next month, with a ramp up to full production early next year.

Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City