This month, Pekin Child Care Center will be expanding the child care services and adding 12 infant spaces.
The center currently serves 168 children and once the 12 new spaces open, this will bring the total number of children served to 180.
Currently, Pekin Child Care Center has:
- An infant room for children for 6 weeks of age to 1-years-old.
- A transition room for children age 1-years-old to age 2-years-old.
- A multi-age room serving ages 2-years-old to 5, a room structured similar to preschool, to meet each child’s developmental needs.
- They also offer traditional preschool that serves 4-year-olds and also offer before and after school care to school age children.
Currently, the center employs 24 staff members and they will be adding one additional full-time staff person to support the expansion and some part-time staff will also transition to full-time.
Co-directors of the Pekin Child Care Center, Janet Conger and Gina Swearingen, and Administrator Kim Ledger expressed the expansion was driven by the center’s waiting list for infant spaces. They have had expecting parents reaching out to them for a spot on their waitlist. With this, they said the twelve expansion spaces are already filled.
The Pekin School District had an existing building on their campus that historically had many uses over the years, though most recently was unused, making the building available to be repurposed. The school district donated the building to the Pekin Child Care Center and it was relocated directly adjacent to the existing center. The building has been under renovation this past summer and is now completed. Conger, Swearingen and Ledger worked with the Department of Human Services and the Iowa State Fire Marshall’s to meet building code requirements for the renovation of the building. The cost of the project was supported by private donations, the Pekin School District’s SAVE (Secure and Advanced Vision for Education) and sales tax dollars as well as center funds.
Looking forward, the leadership plans to expand the transition room for children age 1-year old to age 2-years old in the next few months to accommodate children as they age out of the infant room.
The Pekin Child Care program started in 1991 and moved to its current location in 2001 and began their infant program that same year. They have a level four out of five on the Iowa Quality Rating System and the infant staff receives PITC [Program for Infant and Toddler Care] training through Child Care Resource and Referral. The center also participates in the Iowa Positive Behavior Support Program. This sets child expectations of behaviors, rules to operate by, and provides teachable moments to support appropriate behaviors. Finally, they participate in the State Child Care Assistance Program and the Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Iowa Preschool Scholarship Program to assist families with costs of tuition.
Kim Ledger said, “Pekin Childcare is committed to providing a quality service to the community. We take great pride in our long history of quality ratings and strive to develop programs that developmentally meet the needs of all the children we serve. We are supported by the Pekin School District, local businesses, and families who also strive to improve the greater community. We are pleased to be in a position to expand our daycare facility in response to our community’s needs.”
Pekin Child Care Center has a long-term relationship with Indian Hills Community College to provide field experience for their Early Childhood Education Program. They also work with the Pekin School District on a cross-age mentoring program for high school juniors and seniors that pair them with a child at the center.
The Jefferson County Child Care Steering Committee, the Fairfield Economic Development Association, and the Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Area Board commissioned First Children’s Finance to complete a Child Care Market Analysis to better understand the child care market in Fairfield and Jefferson County. The Child Care Market Analysis showed there is a shortage of 137 infant spaces in Jefferson County. Parents that participated in the market study identified a licensed center or a registered child care development homes as their most preferred options for providing care to their children.
Pekin Child Care Center is serving 39 families with 57 children employed in Fairfield and they are serving 24 families with 38 children, living in Jefferson County. In total, the center serves 95 children whose parents work in Fairfield or Jefferson County.
Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson said, the Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Board, “is looking forward to continuing to partner with Pekin Child Care Center to assist them with their expansion. Their expansion to provide quality early education and care to children helps to meet the child care challenges in Fairfield.”
Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for Fairfield Economic Development Association stated, “Pekin Child Care Center has been providing quality care for families working in Fairfield for many years. Although we have work to do to create additional spaces in the area, the expansion of these 12 infant spaces is very helpful in reducing the gap that we are experiencing. The center’s successful growth over the years, including this expansion, is a testament to the center’s leadership.”
For more information about Pekin Childcare Center’s services, contact:
Co-directors, Janet Conger and Gina Swearingen