STORM LAKE, Iowa (KCAU) — The City of Storm Lake was awarded a $10,000 Rural Child Care Market Study grant Friday.

The grant program supports use of data and analysis by communities to determine specific needs and solutions for local child care. The information will be critical for organizations or providers interested in serving the community, according to a release.

Earlier, the Storm Lake City Council agreed unanimously to fund an additional $5,000 toward the study. Storm Lake will contract with First Children’s Finance, the industry leader in child care market research and sustainability.

The release stated that planning for the study will begin immediately.

“The grant is a valuable first step in our community goal of addressing our childcare needs,” Mayor Mike Porsch said. “It provides us not only a needs assessment but also a tool for community groups or child care organizations to use in obtaining valuable grants to use for establishing child care facilities in our community.”

Storm Lake City Manager Keri Navratil emphasized the importance of the grant to the Stork Lake community.

“We are deeply appreciative of the opportunity that Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and Director Durham has presented to the city to address critical childcare needs in the community and to positively impact economic development,” Navratil said.

Storm Lake’s grant application was selected in the competitive process after scoring by a panel of Empower Rural Iowa task force members and IEDA staff. The Center for Rural Revitalization will provide assistance in completing the study and determining steps moving forward based on the outcome.

“Child care is a challenge across rural communities in Iowa and across the nation. However, the solutions are often more complicated than the construction of a new facility,” according to IDEA officials. “Many factors need to be carefully analyzed to first determine the market feasibility for development of a child care center, expansion of an existing one or support for in-home providers. Through greater understanding of their geographic market, demographics, competition and other factors, communities can be armed with the information needed to take proactive steps towards addressing child care challenges.”