Childcare providers hope Governor Reynolds can bring long-needed relief to industry

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IOWA — Childcare industry representatives were praising Governor Reynolds’ announcement that more funding and focus would be coming toward the industry. This is a field which has suffered from low pay, and lack of applicants to work in daycare centers. Now the Governor plans directing $200 million in pandemic relief funds to child care providers hurt in the pandemic.

“I think that there are steps in the right direction with the way the Governor has committed to early on the task force, and aggressive 100 day timeline she has elevated the childcare crisis and then I believe with the federal build back better plans or things that are passing through theirs bi-partisan support in the state,” said Jillian Herink, of the Iowa Association for Education of Young Children.

That agency works with childcare workers on pay and education issues. The big issue for years has been low pay.

“Childcare needed attention for a long time and the governor heard that, and put together a task force last year and that spent time studying lots of different pieces of it,” said Lora Patton of Childcare Resource and Referral, an agency which helps connect parents with daycare openings. “They’ve rolled out some beginning pieces that will be worked on we don’t have all the details yet, but there will be some funding available for current programs and start up programs.”

Herink said childcare should be considered infrastructure, as the cost of providing that is too great for parents to bear, it needs to be a partnership with the government.

The state has what are called “child care deserts,” where there are not enough childcare providers for those needing help.

“For every child care slot there’s three children actually needing that slot, is how that’s figured out,” said Patton. “You know Central Iowa, Polk County doesn’t have that as much but some of our rural areas across the state definitely do.”

There are some 400 communities in Iowa, which meet the Child Care Desert status.

“I think there is a really good start to childcare deserts, business is in the communities building childcare centers but again it comes down to the lack of childcare work force,” said Herink. “I know we have a workforce shortage in the state, that can’t be helped without childcare, and so the lack of childcare workforce really is the number one issue, and it is both rural and urban.”

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