DES MOINES, Iowa — All lawmakers up at the Iowa Statehouse view child care as a critical piece to improving the state’s workforce; but along party lines, there are two different avenues to improve an industry that desperately needs it.

The Iowa Senate on Monday debated a bill that was voted over by the House which would lower the age to work full time in childcare facilities to 16. An amendment was added that would also expand the child care provider to child ratio to one to seven for 2-year-olds and one to ten for 3-year-olds.

“Iowa is behind we haven’t got adjusted to what our federal guidelines are and what other states are doing,” said State Senator Jeff Edler (R) from State Center. “So we need to modernize how we do daycare apparently and at least give them the flexibility to take on the children they think they can handle.”

The Senate has already passed the ratio portion of this bill, along party lines, but looks to make these two bills one as the end of the session is on the horizon. 

Child care facilities in the metro are split as well on what these two bills would do for an industry that needs help now. But the view from Senate Republicans is that this will help facilities that are able to bring in more workers and take in more kids to immediately impact workforce issues in the state.

“This bill allows for the options of an employer to utilize their workforce,” said State Senator Craig Johnson (R) from Independence.

But many in the industry have argued in the past that this will drive those crucial workers away from the profession. (hyperlink old story about workers leaving) And Senate Democrats view these two changes in the same light.

“I don’t know why we are passing this if they don’t want it. They don’t see it as a solution to our childcare workforce crisis,” said State Senator Liz Mathis (D) from Hiawatha.

That bill, since it was amended, heads back to the House where there is currently no floor debate scheduled for the week.