Gov. Reynolds today announced several key initiatives to address Iowa’s child care shortage and advance the state’s continued economic recovery.
Iowa leads the nation in the share of households where both parents work. But 23% of Iowans, including 35% of rural Iowans, live in areas lacking adequate child care supply. Annually, the child care shortage costs the Iowa economy approximately $935 million.
“We know that the key to economic growth is a highly skilled and qualified workforce,” said Gov. Reynolds. “A child care shortage that prevents parents from entering or remaining in the workforce hinders our ability to meet this challenge.”
In March, Gov. Reynolds established the Governor’s Child Care Task Force – comprised of both public and private members — to provide a comprehensive strategy and recommendations to address the shortage.
Based on recommendations in the final report, Gov. Reynolds is immediately implementing the following actions:
Implementation of a childcare management system
This statewide, web-based platform will enable providers to leverage a shared services model for many business operations such as administrative tasks, group purchasing, and professional development. This system will be available in 2022.
Creation of a “Best Place for Working Parents” designation
This designation will recognize employers that go above and beyond to accommodate their employees with children. The new, public designation will help job seekers quickly identify family-friendly employers and will encourage businesses to invest in childcare. This program will begin in January 2022.
Additional $10 million in funding for the Child Care Challenge Grant Program
To support the expansion of existing childcare facilities or construction of new centers that will increase the number of childcare slots available to Iowa families, Iowa Workforce Development, in collaboration with the Department of Human Services, has launched another round of funding for the Childcare Challenge Grant Program, available today.
$100,000 for integrated model of child care and preschool learning opportunities
The Iowa Department of Education, through ESSER III funds, is making available $100,000 for grants that will advance planning efforts for blended childcare and preschool learning opportunities.
$200 million for funding stabilization grants for financial loss due to the pandemic
The Iowa Department of Human Services is providing up to $200 million in federal funding to assist eligible childcare providers who can verify financial loss due to the pandemic. This will ensure that Iowa providers are stable, can support expansion, and continue to serve the needs of Iowa’s working families.
“We’re not finished yet, this is only the beginning,” said Gov. Reynolds. “These new initiatives are going to support our working families and ensure Iowa has the child care system needed to unleash our state’s incredible workforce and set our economy on a path to long-term, broad-based prosperity.”
Since the start of the pandemic, more than $137 million in state and federal funding has been allocated to support child care across the state.
Gov. Reynolds will explore other recommendations to address the child care shortage through additional executive action and legislative priorities during the upcoming legislative session.