New entrepreneur to operate Cedar Rapids schools child care program next year

District officials hope KCE Champions LLC can meet demand and expand learning opportunities for students

The Educational Leadership and Support Center for the Cedar Rapids Community School District at 2500 Edgewood Road NW. (Liz Martin / The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS – Before and after school care will be available at all elementary and middle schools in Cedar Rapids starting next year with the addition of a new independent contractor KCE Champions LLC.

The Cedar Rapids Community School District board of directors on Monday approved a one-year deal with the company in the consent agenda, without discussion.

The District of Cedar Rapids currently does not have a before and after school program in all of its elementary and middle school buildings, and the program it offers is not “consistent,” Deputy Superintendent Nicole said Kooiker in an email.

“We have had requests from parents for extended learning opportunities and also programs that would be more affordable and accessible for our students and families,” Kooiker said.

The agreement with Champions will provide extended learning opportunities for students and families at Cedar Rapids and will include before and after school programs, summer programs and complementary services for preschool students at Truman Early. Childhood Center.

There are several schools in Cedar Rapids with waiting lists for students who do not currently have before and after school care, Kooiker said. Kooiker expects Champions to be able to serve all elementary and high school students who are interested.

The district has struggled to recruit staff across all areas and the district expects more demand for before and after school child care with the opening of the Truman Early Childhood Center this fall.

Currently, the district is working with several partners to provide before and after school care. Kooiker said the district is looking for ways to continue working with these partners.

“The demand for before and after school care is greater than what current providers in the district are able to support. This is an opportunity to expand our program for families, ”said Superintendent Noreen Bush.

The Iowa City Community School District began using Champions for before and after school programs in 2019. Champions currently operates four schools in Iowa City and serves approximately 100 students in each building.

Kristin Pedersen, director of community relations for the Iowa City schools, said working with Champions was fun and flexible to meet the needs of families and students.

“They went above and beyond” when schools were forced to switch to online learning at certain times during the 2020-21 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pedersen said.

“They found space and opened centers to support working parents, including working parents at (University of Iowa hospitals and clinics),” Pedersen said.

Champions serves more than 40,000 children in 21 states.

Its Kindergarten to Grade 6 before and after school curriculum focuses on socio-emotional skills, executive skills, and inquiry-based learning. Its preschool program for ages 3 and 4 helps students build self-confidence and encourages them to become problem solvers and lifelong learners.

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