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EPI Partnering with Hawkeye Community College to Open Child Care Center

posted by Chris Sparks on Monday, November 5, 2018

Hawkeye Community College and Exceptional Persons, Inc. are partnering to create an innovative solution to the critical need for child care in Black Hawk County.

The Van G. Miller Adult Learning Center being developed in downtown Waterloo by Hawkeye, opening January 2019, will house a child care center which will be run by Exceptional Persons, Inc.

The gap between available child care and children in need is growing in Black Hawk County while the total number of child care programs over the last five years has declined by 41% according to Black Hawk County child care data sheet developed by

“Families in the Cedar Valley struggle to find child care. Our Child Care Resource & Referral office sees the struggle daily as we help families try to find child care,” stated EPI’s Children and Family Services Director, Mary Janssen. 

With the child care shortage, businesses and organizations, such as EPI, struggle to find and keep employees.

“Safe, affordable, and enriching child care is such an incredible need in our community and we see that with our employees,” Chris Sparks, Executive Director at EPI said. “We as an organization have been wanting to offer this benefit to staff for a very long time.”

Janssen went on to say, “Economic growth cannot happen in the Cedar Valley without access to Child Care for our families.”

The child care center, located at the intersection of Jefferson Street and West Mullan Avenue in downtown Waterloo, will have 56 spots for children who are infant through preschool age.

EPI staff and Hawkeye Community College students, as well as staff, will have first choice for child care spots. Unfilled spots by either organization will then be open to the public. 

EPI, through its Children and Family Services department, has been working to raise the awareness of the need for quality child care. Through these efforts the Black Hawk Child Care Coalition was launched bringing together other organizations, legislators, business owners, and funders.

The coalition sparked the idea for EPI and Hawkeye Community College to develop this innovate partnership unlike any other in the state.

“It is our hope that the EPI and Hawkeye Community College partnership to offer childcare will be a model for other organizations and businesses across the Cedar Valley and beyond,” said Dr. Linda Allen, president of Hawkeye Community College.

Hawkeye’s adult learning center will feature more than a dozen services and double the capacity of students that can be served. The center is the first major building project primarily funded from the February 3, 2015, bond referendum, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in Hawkeye’s 10 county service region.

About The Author

Chris Sparks served as EPI's third ever Executive Director from 1998 until 2022.