Childcare Is A Workforce Issue

Thank you for attending our first Iowa Solutions Summit with a focus on shattering the barrier to access to affordable, quality childcare. We hope you leave this conference with ideas to implement within your own community.

Here is all of the information you need for the day.



8:15 am – 9:00 am           Pre-Conference Networking and Registration

9:05 am – 9:30 am           Welcome from IEDA Director Debi Durham

9:30 am – 9:45 am           Welcome from IWF President & CEO Deann Cook

9:45 am – 10:00 am        BREAK – Vendor Booths Open

10:00 am – 11:00 am     Breakout Sessions 

11:00 am – 11:15 am     BREAK – Vendor Booths Open

11:15 am – 12:30 pm     Lunch – Iowa Legislative Panel: Policy Updates & 2024 Priorities

12:30 pm – 12:45 pm     BREAK – Vendor Booths Open

12:45 pm – 1:45 pm        Breakout Sessions 

1:45 pm – 2:00 pm           BREAK – Vendor Booths Open

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm           Breakout Sessions 

3:00 pm – 3:15 pm           BREAK – Vendor Booths Open

3:15 pm – 4:00 pm           Iowa Department of Health and Human Services: Accessing State Resources

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm           Bringing it Home – Action Steps for Your Community

8:15 am – 9:00 am
Pre-Conference Networking and Registration

9:05 am – 9:30 am Welcome from IEDA Director Debi Durham

9:30 am – 9:45 am
Welcome from IWF President & CEO Deann Cook

9:45 am – 10:00 am
BREAK – Vendor Booths Open

10:00 am – 11:00 am
Breakout Sessions (select from list below)

11:00 am – 11:15 am
BREAK – Vendor Booths Open

11:15 am – 12:30 pm
Lunch – Iowa Legislative Panel: Policy Updates & 2024 Priorities

12:30 pm – 12:45 pm
BREAK – Vendor Booths Open

12:45 pm – 1:45 pm
Breakout Sessions (select from list below)

1:45 pm – 2:00 pm
BREAK – Vendor Booths Open

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Breakout Sessions 

3:00 pm – 3:15 pm
BREAK – Vendor Booths Open

3:15 pm – 4:00 pm
Iowa Department of Health and Human Services: Accessing State Resources

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Bringing it Home – Action Steps for Your Community


Prevent Child Abuse Iowa
Prevent Child Abuse Iowa is a non-profit that empowers community prevention efforts to provide safe and happy childhoods through collaboration with diverse partners, leading to a better future for Iowa.


  1. Martha Comfort, Connections Matter Program Manager
  2. Stacey Nay, Development & Marketing Manager


USDA Rural Development
USDA Rural Development offers direct loans, loan guarantees and grants to develop or improve essential public services and facilities in rural communities across the state. Projects that have received agency funding include childcare centers and many other community-based initiatives.


  1. Kim Ledger, Loan Specialist
  2. Ethan Krueger, Loan Specialist


Iowa Afterschool Alliance
The Iowa Afterschool Alliance (IAA) is the industry leader for out-of-school time programming in Iowa. IAA provides resources to over 1,800 providers, community-based organizations, schools, state policymakers, and afterschool advocates.


  1. Heidi Brown, Director
  2. Elva Griffin, Program Coordinator


Align Architecture & Planning
Align Architecture & Planning PLC is the most recent evolution of the firm originally founded in 1948 as Flinn & Saito Architects in Waterloo, Iowa. We recently changed names in 2020 from AHTS Architects. We are a fully-insured, medium-sized firm serving northeast Iowa and surrounding areas for over 70 years. We have successfully completed over one thousand projects, ranging in scope and type. Renovations, non-profit facilities, daycares, senior living, churches, and historic renovations are some of our areas of focus. We are committed to cultivating strong, professional relationships by providing client-centric and value-conscious designs.


  1. Andrew Bell, Architect & Partner
  2. Jacob Bauer, Architect & Partner

Breakout Sessions (10:00am – 11:00am and 12:45pm – 1:45pm)

Solution: Onsite Builds

Room: Salon 2

We all know the challenges of labor shortages in rural communities and the lack of available childcare can make attracting and retaining talent even more difficult. Recognizing this, Vermeer decided to build the solution. Vermeer surveyed team members, analyzed the local childcare landscape, and partnered with industry leaders to establish a premier early learning center. The Yellow Iron Academy, located on the Vermeer campus in Pella, provides a quality early learning experience for 130 students, both from Vermeer and our community.

Frontier Co-op VP of HR Megan Schulte will share about the co-op's experience with their onsite subsidized childcare program. Learn more about their history with the program over more than 40 years, expanding the program over time, the importance of key partnerships, and learnings from along the way.

Megan Schulte – Frontier Co-op

Megan leads all aspects of HR and strives to provide a holistic approach when evaluating the employee experience. This includes putting an emphasis on employees finding and maintaining a career path through training and development opportunities designed specifically for the roles and needs of our industry. Her team is focused on managing key recruiting strategies while nurturing Frontier Co-op’s unique culture and work/life balance through an array of programs and benefits like our on-site childcare and our organic café. Megan has a B.A. from the University of Iowa and an M.B.A. from Mount Mercy University.

Teresa Hovell – Vermeer Corporation

Teresa Hovell is the Benefits Manager at Vermeer Corporation, headquartered in Pella, Iowa. She has been with Vermeer Corporation 26 years. Teresa leads the benefits team, including the Vermeer onsite clinic, pharmacy, and chaplaincy programs. She serves on the Iowa Workforce Development Board and the Pella Wellness Consortium Board. Her focus is to provide a comprehensive benefit suite to team members to allow them and their families to live their best and healthiest lives.

Solution: School District Partnerships

Room: Altoona

The thought of a school district taking on the task of providing birth - three year old child care can be overwhelming. However, when we begin looking at this opportunity as a solution rather than a problem the concept becomes much more appealing. Come learn about how two rural school districts in eastern Iowa have developed school-operated centers that have resulted in increased enrollment, revenue, and services for children.

Superintendent Barb Schwamann – Riceville CSD

Barb Schwamman is in her 9th year at Osage and 7th year of being shared with Riceville. She is an active member in the community on Rotary, Previous Chamber Board, Governor's Stem Council, IHSAA Board of Control , RSAI Legislative Rep, UNI Critical Friend in Supt Program, Instructor UNI and IPLA, Mentor for SAI, DRAKE and UNI admin programs.

Brooke Watson

My name is Brooke Watson and I am the director at Little Cats' Daycare in Riceville. I am a fifth generation Wildcat, so black and red runs deep in my blood. I have a true passion for the success of our school and community, which is why I chose to take on the director role at LCD. I graduated from RCSD in 2011 and UNI in 2014 with a BA in Family Services. After college, I worked as a paraeducator at a special needs school in Cedar Falls, a behavior therapist at an Autism Center in the twin cities, and was an in-home social worker for a non-profit organization in Mitchell and Floyd Counties before taking on my role as the director. I never thought I would be in this position; however, I have always wanted to get back into the school that I grew up in and raise my children in. I had heard of some of the issues taking place at the daycare center and thought I would be the right person to help. I have a lot of great experience and connections in the community that help me with this position. I could not imagine doing this job without the support of the school district and the wonderful families that trust and support us while their children are in our care.

Superintendent Chris Fee – Andrew CSD

My name is Chris Fee and I am in my eighth year as a superintendent. I serve three rural school districts in eastern-Iowa. In my time with these school systems I have worked closely with community partners to establish a district-operated childcare center in two separate districts. We have learned many lessons along the way. I am eager to share how we accomplished this undertaking and answer questions for anyone else considering a similar approach.

Solution: Business Partnerships with Providers

Room: Salon 3

Join us for an informative session as we delve into the collaboration between MercyOne Medical Center and Crittenton Center to provide childcare services for MercyOne colleagues. This session will offer a comprehensive overview of the project, covering its development, enrollment process, marketing strategies, challenges encountered and the impact it has had on workforce shortages and the moral of healthcare providers.

In this session, Tracy and Sara will share their childcare program structures, challenges and benefits of the programs, and what they have learned through these partnerships.

Sara Blair – Country Maid, Inc.

Sara is a business professional with boundless enthusiasm for the art and profession of Human Resources. Her ultimate goal is to help empower people to not hate work. As the HR Manager for Country Maid, Inc. in West Bend, Iowa, producer of Butter Braid pastries and Dutch Apron Cake Rolls, Sara supports a team of 100 employee-owners, focusing on employee experience and culture. a 24-year HR veteran, Sara has served in various HR roles in the telecom, publishing, manufacturing, and staffing industries.

Tracy Feathers RN, BA, CFM – MercyOne Siouxland

Tracy Feathers has a passion for helping others. Her creativity, enthusiasm and forward- thinking leadership has allowed her to connect with others, to build strong relationships and raise money that has made a difference in the lives of cancer patients, abused children, homeless teenagers and the Siouxland community for the last 16 years. As the Chief Development Officer at MercyOne Siouxland Foundation, Tracy draws upon her background in nursing, pharmaceutical sales, marketing and fundraising to lead the Foundation in their mission to serve the needs of hospital patients, visitors, colleagues, and her community. Tracy seized the opportunity to organize and coordinate the creation of Kids Kampus – a childcare and preschool for MercyOne colleagues in partnership with Crittenton Center’s Child Development program. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren, drinking coffee with friends, biking, motorcycling, entertaining and running her organizing business.

Solution: Inter-Generational Care

Room: Polk County

Brooklyn Community Estate partners with Bear Creek Kids Campus (also owned by Brooklyn Community Estate) to provide an intergenerational program bringing together our residents and daycare children. Brooklyn Community Estate is a privately owned skilled/long term care facility located in Brooklyn Iowa. Bear Creek Kids Campus is currently under construction and will be licensed for approximately 90 children from 6 weeks to 12 years old. We currently operate an afterschool program at our local elementary school until our facility opens in the spring of 2024.

Cathy Essick – Brooklyn Community Estates

Cathy is the Marketing Director for both Brooklyn Community Estate and Bear Creek Kids Campus. I am a graduate of Mount Mercy University and have worked in sales and marketing for over 25 years. I live on the farm I grew up on near Ladora with my husband, two dogs and a cat. We have three grown children.

Leah Bauman – Center Director

Leah was hired in the spring of 2023 as our Childcare Director. She has been instrumental in developing this new childcare center programming. Leah taught elementary school for 9 years prior to joining BCKC. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and 18 month old daughter.

Amanda Ballentine

Amanda Ballentine has been integral to Acorns and Oaks Christian Academy and Perry Lutheran Homes for the past four years. Amanda started her journey with A&O and PLH in the classroom, where she quickly demonstrated her exceptional skills as a childcare provider and passion for intergenerational experiences. Over the years, she has continued to grow and develop, taking on new challenges and responsibilities and rising to each one with grace and determination. Today, Amanda serves as Director of Acorns & Oaks Christian Academy and Intergenerational Outreach Coordinator for Perry Lutheran Homes. Ms. Ballentine is responsible for leading a team of 11, delivering exceptional results, and providing the expertise needed to successfully bring people of different ages together to learn, grow, and connect.

Laura Nelson

Solution: Wage Enhancement Programs

Room: Salon 1

Hamilton County Childcare Coalition was formed in October 2020 as a joint public/private partnership with the City, County, Building Families, and area businesses to solve the childcare availability and affordability crisis here in Hamilton County.

Together, the coalition, nonprofits & its businesses created a County wide Retention & Recruitment program to assist non-profit childcare centers in their community to retain current staffing and hire new staff via a retention & recruitment bonus. Topics include: Business Pledge Form, Childcare Center Application, Program Detail Summary.

Learn how one county assessed, developed, and implemented a wage enhancement program for child care professionals.

Cindy Im – Hamilton County

Cindy Im-Hamilton County Economic Development Director, serves on board for Webster City Area Chamber, MIDAS Council of Government, Magistrate and many more. Married with mother of 4 and holds a Master Degree in Business Administration from Kaplan University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Hamilton College and is an Iowa Certified Public Manager from Drake University.

McKinley Bailey

McKinley Bailey is the Executive Director of Building Families a hybrid of a 501c3 and an Early Childhood Iowa Area Board serving North Central Iowa. With 16 years of leadership and management experience in both the public and private sector this US Army Veteran and former state legislator brings a wealth of experience to the Building Families Team. McKinley earned a Bachelors Degree in International Studies from the University of Iowa and a Master’s in Business Administration from the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. McKinley is a father of two children with a passion for bringing private sector efficiencies to public sector endeavors as well as ensuring that the people that take care of our children make at least as much money as the people taking care of our cheeseburgers.

Doug Follmann

Doug Follmann is the Executive Vice President and Board member of First State Bank, Webster City, Iowa where he has managed the bank’s insurance division Town & Country Insurance for thirty-nine years. Originally from Massena, Iowa, Follmann is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in Agricultural Business. He is also a graduate of the Iowa School of Banking at the University of Iowa and the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Colorado in Boulder. ecognizing the challenges that Hamilton County child care providers were having in hiring and retaining enough staff to fully utilize their available space (and being the grandfather to two young grandsons), Follmann was one of the original organizers of the Hamilton County Childcare Coalition. His primary responsibility was to solicit multi-year donations/pledges from other area businesses to fund and sustain the Coalition’s innovative wage enhancement program that has now been assisting the non-profit child care centers of Hamilton County for three years.

Missie Forbes – 4Cs

Missie Forbes has been Executive Director at 4Cs since 2019. In that time she has become a strong advocate for all things childcare, recognizing that short and long-term solutions are needed to ensure ALL children have access to quality and affordable childcare. She serves on the JoCo Child Care Coalition Leadership Team to address these issues and finds other ways to address gaps in service and barriers to success for anyone interested in the field of early childhood education.

Laurie Nash – Johnson County Social Services

Laurie is the Youth & Family Services Manager at Johnson County Social Services. She has experience working as a member of interdisciplinary teams in early care and education, pediatric health, and community mental health for children age 0-6 as well as managing several state and local grants.

Jennifer Banta – United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties

Jennifer Banta, a dedicated community leader, took the helm as President and CEO of the United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties in November 2022. With 25 years of experience in Iowa City, she's known for her passion for the local community. Previously Vice President of the Iowa City Area Business Partnership, Jennifer led initiatives improving access to affordable childcare. She's also a founding member of the Johnson County Childcare Solutions Coalition and is a member of the state Early Childhood Iowa board, showcasing her commitment to making a positive impact on families and communities in the region.

Solution: We Need Childcare – Now What? High-Level Roadmap to How to Start a Childcare Solution

Room: Skinner B1

We will explore a "typical" process to start/expand a childcare facility from quantifying the need, defining the program, business modeling, site selection, marketing, fundraising, hiring staff, maintaining a financially sustainable business and more.

Dan Levi – Levi Architecture

Managing partner of Levi Architecture, Dan Levi has been helping organizations, non-profits and municipalities explore community needs for childcare and advocating to the private sector the economic benefits to a robust childcare industry. Levi Architecture travels the entire state assisting community with all things childcare from designing buildings and playgrounds to restructuring existing centers' entire business plans and financial plans.

Mary Janssen – Child Care Resource & Referral

Mary has a BA in Elementary Education and a Master's Early Childhood Administration and Leadership. In her experience, Mary has been a child care teacher, Child Care Center Director, QRS Specialist for Iowa CCR&R and the past 11 years she has been the Regional Director for Child Care Resource and Referral of NE Iowa. Mary is also a Consultant with Levi Architecture, supporting communities with proformas, business plans and playground designs.

Legislative Panel – Childcare Policies for 2024 (Lunch 11:15am - 12:30pm)

Room: Bishop Ballroom – A buffet lunch will be served in the Bishop Pre-Function area. Please go through the buffet line and head into the Bishop Ballroom for this session.

Hosted by Dave Price

Representative Megan Jones

Representative Jones is a Republican elected in 2013. She chairs the Administrative Rules Committee and serves on the Iowa House’s Ag, Environmental Protection, Judiciary and Ways and Means Committees.

Senator Jeff Edler

Senator Edler was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2016. He is the chair of the Iowa Senate Health & Human Services Committee and Vice Chair of the Health & Human Services Appropriations Sub-Committee.

Representative Heather Matson

Representative Matson is a Democrat serving District 42 in the Iowa House. She is the Ranking Member of the Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee and serves on the Iowa House’s Admin & Rules, Appropriations, Education, HHS and State Government Committees.

Senator Nate Boulton

Senator Boulton is a Democrat serving District 20 in the Iowa House. Nate has served as vice-president of the Iowa Association for Justice and as president of the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Advisory Committee.

Breakout Sessions (2:00pm – 3:00pm)

Advocacy in Action

Room: Salon 1

How to tell your communities story to legislators to advocate for supportive policies.

Dave Stone

Dave Stone is the Advocacy Officer at United Way of Central Iowa. He advocates for the organization’s legislative goals to support its investments in economic opportunity, health & well-being, education and essential needs. He has nearly a decade of experience in advocating for early childhood success and childcare.

Andrea Woodard

Andrea Woodard is Senior Vice President of Government Relations & Public Policy at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. She recently earned a Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) designation from ACCE, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, and was elected to serve on the ACCE Board as Chair of the Government Relations Division.

Technical Assistance from IWF

Room: Salon 2

How the work that the Iowa Women’s Foundation can do to support your community

Sheri Penney

A proud Iowa native, Sheri was raised in Williamsburg and currently resides in Osage. She earned a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Iowa and most recently served as the Economic Development Director for Mitchell County—where she was working to increase access to quality affordable child care.

Sheri is a former stay-at-home mother of three children and has been a child care provider in the past, offering firsthand knowledge of all perspectives.

Sheri is known in her networks as a collaborator, connector and visionary who does not shy away from a challenge. As IWF’s Employment Engagement Director, she enjoys working with businesses of all sizes to find child care solutions that benefit everyone and strengthen the community.

Sheri serves as president-elect of the Osage Rotary. She is a member of PDI and attended the Heartland Economic Development Course. She also teaches fitness classes in her community.

Strategic Communications – How to Tell Your Community Story

Room: Salon 3

Tools to communicate your community’s vision for childcare solutions and making the ask of decisionmakers and investors.

Clarence Hudson

Deeply connected lifelong coach and business leader who thrives in complex, dynamic environments. His uncanny ability to recognize others' talents and strengths equips him to connect the right people to reach goals never imagined. With more than 40 years of sales, business development and executive leadership experience, his experience is unmatched.

In this session, Tracy and Sara will share their childcare program structures, challenges and benefits of the programs, and what they have learned through these partnerships.


Iowa Department of Health and Human Services: Accessing State Resources
(3:15pm – 4:00pm)

Hear from HHS on the alignment of child care services in Iowa and how this impacts work done to support the child care infrastructure. HHS will discuss Iowa’s child care landscape and explore ongoing barriers to child care stability. Iowa’s multi-faceted approach to supporting the child care workforce will be showcased.

Ryan Page

Ryan Page is the Director of Child Care with the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services. Ryan has been with the state department for almost 17 years, 9 of which have been dedicated to the child care space. Ryan is the Director of the newly aligned child care team that brings together both policy and practice. Ryan holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Iowa State University, a Masters in Criminal Justice from St. Ambrose University, and a Masters in Public Administration from Drake University. Ryan completed the Afterschool Policy White-Riley-Peterson Fellowship through Furman University in 2021. Ryan holds the Regulatory Administration Credential from the National Association of Regulatory Administration and is a recent recipient of the Iowa Afterschool Alliance’s Advocate of the Year award.


BASP: Before and After School Program
CCR&R: Childcare Resource and Referral
ECE: Early Childhood Education
ECI: Early Childhood Iowa
ECSE: Early Childhood Special Education
EDC: Economic Development Commission
HHS: Iowa Department of Health and Human Services
IAEYC: Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children
IEDA: Iowa Economic Development Authority
IQ4K: Iowa Quality for Kids. Iowa’s quality rating and improvement system for licensed and registered providers.
Licensed: Center-based childcare program
Ratio: Number of staff to children in each classroom
Registered: Home-based childcare program
Slot: A space for a child in their current age classroom at a childcare facility
T.E.A.C.H: Early Childhood Iowa Scholarship Program
WAGE$: A comprehensive workforce initiative designed to address education, retention, and compensation for early care and education providers working with children ages birth to five.
WEP: Wage Enhancement Program


Today we want to acknowledge the support of our 2023 Summit sponsors.



Evaluation Form

We appreciate the time you spent with us today and would like to hear your thoughts as to how the summit went and what we could do to improve it for next year. Please fill out our five minute survey.

Childcare Toolkit and Surveys Request

Iowa Business and Childcare Coalition created a tooklit to help address how childcare affects workforce participation. This toolkit includes detailed information on how to implement one or more six solutions:

  • Backup Childcare Options
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Flexible Work Arrangements
  • Off-site/Nearby Partnerships
  • On-site Childcare
  • Subsidized Childcare

IWF has developed surveys to help gauge employee interest in types of childcare assistance and the impact it has on attraction and retention. These include:

  • Survey on childcare impact for employees
  • Survey on childcare needs for employers
  • Survey on childcare for businesses
  • Partnership examples

Donate to IWF

The Iowa Women’s Foundation was built because 27 individual women believed in creating better lives for women in Iowa. In the same spirit, we invite individuals like you to join our journey and help us continue improving the lives of women and girls in Iowa.