“Iowa leads the nation in the share of households where both parents work and yet 23% of Iowans, including 35% of rural Iowans, live in a child care desert,” Reynolds said this morning during a news conference in Carlisle, “and the average Iowa family spends more on child care than it does housing.”
The governor indicated the recommendations are geared toward infrastructure rather than employee pay. Reynolds said the State of Iowa will immediately support a web-based platform that lets child care providers share services, like human resources and group purchasing.
“Child care centers in New Hampshire that participated in shared services have generated significant savings, including 25% on commercial insurance,” Reynolds said. “so this should make it easier for child care providers to run their businesses more efficiently and effectively and really focus their time on what they do best and that’s to provide our children with high quality care.”
The governor’s staff has not yet released a copy of the child care task force report. Reynolds also announced today she is directing another $200 million in federal pandemic relief money to help child care centers around the state shore up budgets, and the money might be used to cover salaries. Reynolds promised other action in the upcoming Iowa legislative session.
“We’re going to support working families, fill in the gaps in Iowa’s child care system,” she said, “and do everything that we can to unleash our state’s incredible workforce.”
The state provides direct assistance to low income parents to cover child care costs. While the state is administering some programs to encourage child care as a profession, Reynolds said she is reluctant for the state touse one-time money for on-going expenses, like provide stipends to child care centers that directly cover employee wages.
“Not only helping support those that are entering into the industry, but also we have to look for ways to make it affordable for parents,” Reynolds said, “so that’s always been the balance we’ve had to walk.”
The child care center in Carlisle Reynolds visited today opened during the pandemic and the center’s owner says the government grant she received was a huge help as construction costs were significantly higher than what she had anticipated.