Innovative new approach to childcare assistance will expand and enhance region's workforce

Friday, February 1, 2019

DUBUQUE—Northeast Iowa Community College, in partnership with Greater Dubuque Development Corporation, The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, the City of Dubuque, Dubuque County and the Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA, has developed an innovative approach to grow the region’s workforce and create additional childcare options for students training for in-demand employment positions. This is an extension of the current Opportunity Dubuque Career Pathway Certificate program.

The organizations’ new initiative will address the shortage of skilled workers available to fill in-demand positions at local businesses. Parents, especially single parents in the Dubuque area, say they are not able to enroll in training for these careers because they cannot find sufficient and affordable childcare.

Starting in March, a new On-Site Child Care program will be available for parents enrolled in eligible training courses while in classes at the Northeast Iowa Community College Town Clock Business Center. The training prepares students for in-demand skilled employment positions in the Dubuque area.

The On-Site Child Care program, administered by the Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA, will provide care for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years of age, according to Wendy Mihm-Herold, Ph.D., NICC vice president of business and community solutions.

“On-Site Child Care service through the YMCA will allow the College and our partners to remove a significant barrier to enrolling and completing the training students need to enter in-demand skilled employment. Together, we are helping to create a solution both for skilled workers and our region’s employers who need them,” explained Mihm-Herold.

The On-Site Child Care service is available to parents, at no cost, while they are in class and enrolled in career training programs that include Phlebotomy Technician, Industrial Sewing, Customer Service and a new Early Childhood Care program. Eligible full-time employed graduates of these certificate programs may qualify for additional childcare support for up to 12 months.

A second economic development issue in Dubuque County is a shortage of trained childcare workers in area communities. In response, Northeast Iowa Community College will pilot the Early Childhood Care training program beginning in March. The 118-hour certificate program prepares students for entry-level work as caregivers and/or transfer into the NICC Early Childhood Education diploma program, and provides students with the skills and training needed to care for young children. The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque will be funding the cost of the childcare certificate.

Community members are welcome to attend a free information session about the Early Childhood Care training program on Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Northeast Iowa Community College Town Clock Business Center in Dubuque.

For more information about enrolling in classes or to register for an information session, visit or call (563) 557-8271, ext. 380.

MEDIA INQUIRIES: Doug Ropa, NICC Communications Coordinator, (563) 556-5110, ext. 298, or

ABOUT OPPPORTUNITY DUBUQUE: Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), Greater Dubuque Development Corporation (GDDC), Dubuque Works, East Central Intergovernmental Agency, Dubuque Community School District, Project HOPE and regional business partners developed the Opportunity Dubuque Success Model to help prepare youth and adults for the middle-skill economy. The program integrates the state’s workforce programs and best practices nationally and is an exemplary collaborative initiative in the state of Iowa. The result is a replicable and scalable model that meets students where they are in their career pathways and walks with them from entry to a family-sustaining career or continuing education. At the center of the Success Model are the College’s success coaches. Success coaches provide intentional career coaching and individualized support to students through an intake process, assessments, career facilitation, referrals and employment placement. Opportunity Dubuque has received local, state, national and international honors.