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FD council OKs child care grant plans

Funds would assist in care center’s expansion

The Fort Dodge City Council passed a series of resolutions Monday night that is meant to address a need for additional child care opportunities in the Webster County area.

“The need was identified through a child care needs assessment and feasibility study that was completed in November of 2016,” City Clerk Jeff Nemmers said.

The meeting opened up with a public hearing to allow the opportunity for citizen participation and comment on the proposed construction of an addition to the Community Early Childhood Center, 1314 S. 24th St. There were no written comments submitted for the hearing, nor were there any members of the public who chose to attend the hearing.

The first resolution approves and adopts the Community Development and Housing Needs Assessment, which is needed for the city to submit an application to the Iowa Economic Development Authority to request the funding of $800,000 through the Community Development Block Grant Community Facilities program on behalf of the CECC.

The second resolution, which is to approve the filing of the application, highlights that “statistically, the Webster County area has a need for 1,740 additional child care spaces.”

The center has been providing child care in Fort Dodge for nearly 50 years and has a capacity of 151 children, with an additional 64 on its waiting list. The center is limited by building structure, but it has a small amount of land available for expansion and preliminary design work on an addition that would increase the center’s capacity by 56 spaces has been completed.

Funding from the block grant is needed to assist in the expansion.

“This is something that’s really been needed for a long time,” council member Kim Alstott said.

The resolution allows the city to submit the application on behalf of the childhood center, and it also commits matching funds in the amount of up to $250,000 from the city, which will be reimbursed by CECC following fundraising efforts.

In total, the project is estimated to cost $1,050,000.

The third resolution approved a memorandum of understanding between the city of Fort Dodge and child care center that the $250,000 of matching funds from the city will be treated as an interim loan, and the center will reimburse the city through fundraising efforts or private financing.

All three resolutions passed unanimously, with council members Jeffrey Halter and David Flattery absent.

“I would like to point out that child care has been an issue in the community and continues to be an issue,” added council member Terry Moehnke. “This is a drop in the bucket compared to what we need and I know there’s plans moving forward for additional child care but I think … we have a definite need in the community that isn’t being met. I endorse this, and hopefully we’ll see more action like this in the future.”

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