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Davenport school pulls financial stress from families by providing free childcare

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DAVENPORT, Iowa - Family life is changing as moms and dads juggle work, home and kids. In almost half of two-parent families, both parents work full-time.

That's why a Davenport elementary school is reaching out to help.

Madison Elementary is a full service school.

"Students are only doing as well as what their families are doing and that`s true at all age levels but it's especially true at the elementary level," said Jennifer Best, an extension educator for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Madison offers an after school program called Stepping Stones so working parents don't have to worry about who's going to take care of their children while they're at work.

"They have no idea how much it means to us, you`re trying to work every day and you`re trying to make ends meet," said parent, Melissa Levi.

The program goes beyond the classroom though. Downstairs is a school-based food pantry, free for families to choose whatever food they need.

River Bend Foodbank supplies the food while volunteers from St. Paul's Lutheran Church run it.

"They can focus on other financial concerns or other issues that they might have in their lives. We all know families whose furnace went out or their car has broken down," said Volunteer Dana Welser.

The school also offers health and wellness checks for students.

"Sometimes people say to me well is that really the responsibility of the school and I always answer that the same way of course it is because the student is the responsibility of the school," said Best.

The program is working to not only help the child succeed but also its families.

"Every little help we can get we truly appreciate it," said Levi.

The program is funded through grants.

Right now there are five full service schools in the Davenport School District.

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