A coalition of Iowa groups is releasing a voter guide that shows how the two major party candidates for governor responded to questions about child care, foster care, preschool and other kid-related topics.
“There are major child policy issues which must be addressed for children’s’ and Iowa’s prosperity into the future,” says Jerry Foxhoven, a spokesman for the Children’s Policy Coalition.
In the voter guide, Republican Governor Terry Branstad repeated his desire to limit state assistance for preschool to low-income Iowans, while Democratic challenger Jack Hatch supports state-sponsored preschool for all four-year-olds. Foxhoven says his coalition thinks preschool is “great for kids.”
“As much preschool as can be offered should be offered,” Foxhoven says. “Certainly there are resources that need to be devoted to children’s issues and we need to select which ones they are to be given to, but we would encourage preschool on a universal basis, if possible.”
Over 30 Iowa non-profit organizations are part of the Children’s Policy Coalition and the coalition plans to hold events in each of Iowa’s four congressional districts to call attention to where Iowa candidates for federal office stand on children’s issues as well. Despite efforts over the past two decades, Dr. Jennifer Groos, a Des Moines pediatrician, says about 20,000 Iowa kids still aren’t covered by health insurance and are at risk of developing long-term health problems.
“So it’s going to take all of us working together, reaching outside of what we can do in our realms, but working together find ways to improve the quality of care for children across our state,” Groos says.
No other state has a greater proportion of working parents — either both parents or the single parent who heads the household holding down a full-time job. Deann Cook, the executive director of Iowa’s United Way organizations, says candidates need to tell voters how they’ll work to ensure quality child care is affordable and available in Iowa.
“We regard this as keys to families providing economic security for their children and for nurturing children’s development in ways that contribute to their long-term educational success,” Cook says.
This Iowa coalition is part of a national effort to make children’s issues a greater national priority. According to the group’s news release, children make up 24 percent of Iowa’s population and “100 percent of its future.” Find links to the voter’s guides here.