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Elizabeth Stanek  

AGE 45 • LINKING FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES Grew up where? Clare, IA How long in Fort Dodge/Webster County? 41 years And the “Big” questions. What is important to you. Faith, Family, Freedom, Fairness, Determination, Trustworthiness, Commitment, Grace, Making a Difference, Success What do you like about Fort Dodge. Since I live out in the rural part of the county, when asked ‘where are you from?’, I say Fort Dodge. It is the place where I work, shop, workout and worship.  I like that it is small, people are friendly, there are opportunities for entertainment and recreation, but most importantly, my family members live nearby.  I also value the education that my children receive at St. Edmond Catholic School as well as the activities, clubs and teams that are available to them through the school and through community organizations. What are you building for the future. It is my goal to make our communities and the state of Iowa a better place to live.  I believe the key to doing so is investing in human capital during the most critical time in human development: early childhood.  80% of brain development takes place in the first three years of life, so we need to ensure that all children receive the care and education needed to be successful.  Providing supports and programming to children and to those that care for them, which are typically parents and child care providers, can change the lifelong trajectory of the next and future generations positively.   For decades we have known the brain science behind this thought. Leading economists have reported over time that every dollar invested in quality early childhood programming yields a conservative return of $13.  These benefits are to all of society as evidenced by increased school readiness and high school graduation rates, decreased special education, crime and incarceration, increased life-time earnings and increased tax base for communities.  I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t want those things or who would say that 13% isn’t a good return on investment.  We have largely ignored the segment of population on which programs and services can have the most impact, not only on the individual, but on society as a whole.  With all of that in mind, I hope to help bring about the change needed to see greater investments in our young children that will improve their lives and improve Iowa as a whole. What are you working hardest on. Child care.  Fort Dodge and surrounding communities have been labeled child care deserts, meaning there are either no child care options or there are more than three children for each licensed child care space.  The area is also dealing with a workforce shortage, which is likely to worsen. We have parents are dropping out of the workforce because they’ve lost their provider, can’t find quality child care and etc.  I am trying to educate people that quality child care is an essential part of our local economy and an important workforce support.   It allows parents to go to work and be productive and provides children the care and education needed, preparing the future workforce; that’s a two generation impact!  In partnership with other child care serving agencies, strategies and supports are in place to recruit and retain new child care home providers and centers, to improve the quality of the child care and to encourage participation in the Quality Rating System.   I, along with a great team of people, have focused on two child care center projects in Fort Dodge.  The first would expand an existing center and the second would be to establish a new center.  At this point designs and cost estimates have been completed, making the largest obstacle, fundraising, the next challenge in the process.    14C

Fort Dodge Today

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Fort Dodge Today Magazine  

Published by The Messenger

Fort Dodge Today Magazine  

Published by The Messenger

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