A special thank you to our Grant Partner Lutheran Services in Iowa for writing this guest blog and telling us about their work.

For many parents who arrive in the U.S. as refugees, it is difficult to find quality child care. Families are adjusting to American life and may feel hesitant leaving their child with a stranger who doesn’t speak their language or is unfamiliar with their culture.

Lutheran Services in Iowa’s (LSI) Child Care Development Program trains former refugee women to start their own in-home child care businesses, which benefit more families in the refugee community.

In 2012, LSI found that while former refugee child care providers were often able to complete the Department of Human Services (DHS) child care application, some were not completing necessary training or understanding the full Registered Child Care home rules and expectations. LSI’s Child Care Development Program was created to bridge the gap and ensure these providers felt supported, informed, and empowered as they built their in-home businesses.

In 2019, LSI supported 53 active providers who cared for 150 children, which allowed for 73 families to attend work or school.

The program provides essential training and home visits to providers, assists them in registering their business, and offers professional development training.

While LSI offers these services to former refugee community members in the Des Moines area, we know there is a need for similar support in other areas across the state. With support from the Iowa Women’s Foundation, LSI has been able to provide additional assistance and training to other organizations interested in starting refugee child care training programs.

In 2018, LSI was made the official consultant to the Catherine McAuley Center— responsible for presenting a toolkit developed for similar programs to introduce the basics of starting a child care service, DHS-specific regulations, and what to consider when working with refugee populations.

Since then, LSI has become a statewide leader in developing safe, healthy child care businesses within the Iowa refugee community. The team has met with other local leaders to provide more training and ensure Iowa has a cohesive plan to help our newest neighbors thrive in their in-home child care businesses.

We expect to see this program continue to grow. Now, more than ever, this service is critical for parents who need to return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Families can feel relieved knowing their child is receiving high-quality care from a trusted provider while they return to work.