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Written by Ann McGlynn   
Tuesday, 11 January 2011 08:07

Programs help defray costs for qualified families with young children

Davenport, Iowa – Scott County Kids, a public-private partnership that helps families raise happy and healthy children, announces an initiative to award more than $250,000 in child care scholarships for Scott County families who are working, attending school or looking for work.

The first program, funded by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has approximately $230,000 available to assist with the care of children from birth to 24 months. The second, funded by the state of Iowa, has $22,000 in scholarships for second/third shift and weekend care for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

“The money must be used by June 30,” said Marcy Mendenhall, executive director of Scott County Kids. “Right now, just six families are taking advantage of the programs.”

“These scholarships help parents to secure quality, loving child-care for their young children while they work, go to school, or in some cases, look for a job,” Mendenhall said. “They can most certainly play a vital role in helping families during these difficult financial times.”

Birth to 24 months scholarships

The federal stimulus money is for children whose parents are: working at least 28 hours a week; in school or training full-time; in a combination of work and school for at least 28 hours a week; or unemployed within the last six months and actively seeking employment.

The amount of the award, paid directly to the care providers, depends on income. Families are required to pay for some of the care. Detailed information about the grant levels can be found at

To qualify, the child must be between birth and 24 months old, a U.S. citizen and living with parents or individuals acting in a parental role. A family’s income must be within certain guidelines (see below). The child care providers must meet certain standards and be on contract with Scott County Kids.

Home-based and center providers in Scott County who are approved to accept children with this grant are: Children’s Village Hoover; Children’s Village West; Creative Beginnings; Barb DeWispelaere; Hand in Hand; Debra Haskins; Kiddie Karrasel; Kindercare, Bettendorf; Daphne Ramirez; Scott County Family Y – Downtown & Palmer; Shining Light Learning Center; Skip-A-Long.

The home-based providers must have an Iowa Quality Rating of 3, 4 or 5 or accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care. Child care centers must also have an Iowa ranking of a 3, 4 or 5 and be recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Scott County Kids is one of 24 organizations in Iowa participating in the effort, called the Infant and Toddler Quality Child Care Program. Clinton, Jackson, Louisa, Des Moines, Johnson and Iowa counties in Eastern Iowa are also taking part.

Statewide, nearly $2.4 million was available as of November 2009. Scott County received $251,772.

“One challenge, Mendenhall said, “is that many of the providers who qualify and are under contract have waiting lists for infants and toddlers.” She hopes more providers will step forward to qualify.

“We want families to be able to use this stimulus money,” Mendenhall said.

Second/third shift and weekend scholarships

Scott County Kids also has approximately $22,000 in scholarships available to help pay for second/third shift and weekend care, while parents work and/or go to school.

The scholarships are $300-$400 a month for full-time care, and $150-$200 a month for part-time care for children ages birth through enrollment in kindergarten. To qualify, parents cannot be eligible for any other child care assistance; must work and/or attend school for at least 28 hours a week; and live in Scott County.

The challenge is getting the money into the hands of families who can use it. This fiscal year, just $3,000 of the $25,000 has been awarded.

The family-chosen child care providers must be either a home registered with the Iowa Department of Human Resources or a center licensed with the agency. The providers must also supply proof of insurance and complete the requirements of a child care compliance audit.

“The vision of Scott County Kids is that every child, beginning at birth, will be healthy and successful,” said Jennifer Kakert, parent and president of the Scott County Kids board. “One component of this includes ensuring access to quality child care. One barrier for many parents is the cost of quality child care. The scholarships are provided on a sliding income scale to help defray some of that cost. This helps ensure that working parents can secure quality care for their children.”

To find out more about the grants and scholarships from Scott County Kids, to get an application, or to qualify as a child care provider, contact Renee Rankin at the Friendly House, (563)323-1821, ext. 11 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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