MICAH House: Addressing the Importance of Child Care in Overcoming Homelessness

IWF extends a special thank you to our 2023 Grant Partner, MICAH House, for writing this guest blog. Not only does MH provide safe, nurturing support services to families and individuals experiencing homelessness, but they are going the extra mile to prioritize quality, accessible child care for guests. Thank you, MH, for addressing multiple barriers and improving the lives of women, girls, and their families.

Founded in 1986, MICAH House (MH) is an emergency shelter that provides shelter and support services to families and individuals experiencing the crisis of homelessness. In 2022 alone, 728 total individuals were served, with 230 of those between the ages of 0 and 12. Many of MH’s clients with children cannot work without safe and reliable child care. And if they cannot work, they cannot pay for child care.

To combat this issue, MH will be building an on-site child care facility and trauma-informed program complete with accessible, tailored services and therapies for each child. This model will provide essential support for parents as they work to create a sustainable future for their families

The project will consist of the construction of the 12,000-square-foot Florence M. Lakin Child Development Center on the Lakin Health and Human Services Campus in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The center will serve up to 70 children ages six weeks to six years in a trauma-sensitive and service-rich environment.

The center will include six classrooms, each with a lead teacher and assistant. A center director and assistant center director will oversee the facility and programs. There will also be offices for specialists to meet with families and children, a sensory room, an indoor gymnasium, an outdoor play area, and an outdoor garden.

Services will give children and families a running start and offer early intervention. The center will likely not be permanent for many, but a stepping-stone to a more stable and long-term child care arrangement. MH will work to transition children to permanent care settings that meet the family’s longer-term housing and employment goals.

Because of the $10,000 contribution from Iowa Women’s Foundation, MH’s child care center has become a reality. Every child deserves to participate in a proper early childhood program. Iowa Women’s Foundation’s support of this project will ensure that all children passing through MH’s doors have the opportunity to not only participate but also flourish.