Snow days were an issue for families across Iowa this past winter. Representative Tracy Ehlert (D-Cedar Rapids) had a bill crafted that would’ve directed the Department of Humans Services to allow Category B and Category C (2) registered child development homes to accept all their currently enrolled school-aged children on emergency school cancellation days, even if their assistant was not available. Category A’s already allow the exception.

House File 629 received a subcommittee, but did not advance further than that. Ehlert attempted to add the bill as an amendment to another bill, but it did not work either.

“This bill did not allow any programs to go over their maximum capacity, just allowed them to reach maximum capacity on those non-planned school closing/late start/early out days without their assistant,” Ehlert said. “We had a harsh winter this year and I received many communications from families that had either lost jobs or were close to it due to the amount of time off they had to take for all these unplanned school closings.”

These families already have their children enrolled in a before/after program, but those programs can’t always take school-aged children on unplanned cancellations due to not having adequate staff.

“With the child care desert, it’s very hard to find additional backup child care,” Ehlert said. “Unless you can find a center that is fully staffed all day long, you are most likely going to run into the same issue of having a home program not be able to take their full roster on those unplanned cancellation days.”

Ehlert said the Legislative Service Agency (LSA) noted the bill would have little to no impact.

“There did seem to be interest in this bill from both sides, but it finally came out of drafting right before the funnel deadline and didn’t receive enough time to make it back to the Education committee,” Ehlert said. “I was hoping to have it implemented before our next winter started, but I will just try again next year.”

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall