FEDA announced today plans to construct and open a new child care center in Fairfield, to expand a much-needed service to working parents in the community. The center will be owned and operated by Jefferson County Kids, Inc., a local nonprofit corporation. Although its design is in the beginning stages, the new facility is slated to be nearly 14,000 sq. ft. and will be licensed to offer between 150 and 200 child care spaces.
Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for Fairfield Economic Development Association, and Tammy Wetjen- Kesterson, Director for Early Childhood Iowa for Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Counties, are Project Managers for the development.
Laraby stated, “After reviewing the strengths and challenges of new construction versus renovating existing facilities, with the help of a comprehensive assessment conducted by Levi Architecture of Cedar Falls, Iowa, the decision was made to construct a new facility.”
In partnership with Levi Architecture, an in-depth analysis of existing local buildings was conducted prior to deciding on constructing a new facility. Projected renovation costs came in much higher than initially expected. To ensure the most efficient use of space and ongoing annual expenses, the Jefferson County Kids, Inc. Board of Directors determined new construction was the best option.
Fairfield was identified as the preferred location in Jefferson County for such a child care center, after a market study was completed in 2018. The study reported a deficit of over 500 child care spaces in the community. “It’s imperative we move forward to add another child care center. The need for access to available, quality and affordable child care is no longer solely a parent issue, it’s a business issue, a workforce issue, and an infrastructure issue. This is an opportunity to attract and retain workforce and to grow our community,” Laraby said. An assessment of viable sites is in process. Fundraising efforts will commence in January, with construction slated to start late Spring.
Joshua Laraby with Fairfield Economic Development Association and Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson with Early Childhood Iowa for Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Counties facilitated assembling the board of directors for the new child care center. The Jefferson County Kids, Inc. Board of Directors consists of the following community leaders: Bryan Hunger, CEO of Jefferson County Health Center and President of Jefferson County Kids, Inc Board; Teri Bockting, Vice President of Human Resources at Cambridge and Vice President of Jefferson County Kids, Inc.; Kate Van Pelt, Owner of Chickadee and Secretary/Treasurer of Jefferson County Kids, Inc.; Todd Reifsteck, Human Resources Director, Dexter Laundry; Terri Kness, Realtor at Davis and Palmer Real Estate.