New Iron Range Day Care Opens to Help Childcare Shortage

Taylor Holt
Updated: November 08, 2018 10:43 PM

Iron Range Tykes Learning Center is the first and only child care center to open in Mountain Iron. The new center will help fill a "severe" need in childcare service shortages throughout St. Louis County. 

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Nine-year-old Bradey and Weston were two of the kids playing in the center's gym Thursday, before a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"We have balls and trucks and we can play with stuff," said Bradey, when asked about how he liked the new space. "It's good." 

Owner Shawntel Gruba says they opened the 8,500 square foot center a week ago after a year of planning. 

"We have five classrooms, an on-site kitchen, two playgrounds on either side and we have a gym," said Gruba, during a tour of the open house Thursday.

Staff say so far, it's been a god send for local parents.

"Parents mostly comment us on our Bright wheel app and that app is for parents to see real time what is going on with their kids during the day," Gruba added.

However, keeping up with the demand for child care services has been a struggle.

"We are the only day care in Mountain Iron right now," Gruba said. "Since we be opened, we've been getting applications non-stop."

It's a problem affecting families throughout St. Louis County, and one, moms like Wynona Clinton have run into. 

"Before we even got pregnant, we got put on a waitlist for day care because we know infant spots fill up fast," said Clinton, holding here 5-month-old son, Jim, in her hands. 

Clinton says the new center will fill a void for parents.

"It really gives them an opportunity for affordable child care and quality child care," she added.

If anything, staff say it's a starting point to help tackle the bigger issue.

"I think this is going to be a huge asset to to this area. I think several more can go up. It's still a demand even at that point," said Katie Mitrovich, Teacher and Director at the center.

The center serves up to 90 children and infants. They are already at 60 so they recommend families get their applications in as soon as they can.

Grants from the IRRRB, Cleveland Cliffs, and Northland Foundation help make the center possible, along with donations from the community.


Taylor Holt

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