Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Congressman David Trone (MD-06) and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) teamed up in an effort to increase the availability of federal funding for child care development. Senator Ernst introduced the Senate version of the bill yesterday and Representatives Hinson and Trone introduced the House companion legislation today.
The ACCESS Act—or the Affordable Child Care for Economic Strategies and Success Act—would allow communities and public-private partnerships to use grants through the Department of Commerce to increase access to child care.
“Many Iowans struggle to access quality child care options, particularly in rural communities. As we work to rebuild our economy, it is incredibly important that we prioritize expanding trustworthy child care options for working families in Iowa. My predecessor, Congresswoman Finkenauer, introduced this legislation in the 116th Congress alongside Senator Ernst, and I am glad to re-introduce this bipartisan bill with Congressman Trone and Senator Ernst this year,” said Representative Ashley Hinson.
“Working families have had little to no reprieve from demands of work and child care, which are both full time jobs,” said Rep. Trone. “Increasing access to high-quality, affordable, accessible, and reliable child care through substantial infrastructure investments will help ease the burden on families and children and ultimately promote better mental health outcomes.”
“As so many Iowa parents know, our state faced a child care crisis even before the pandemic, and COVID has just made those challenges worse—especially in our most rural areas, like where I grew up and still live today,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “Now is the time to invest in Iowa’s child care industry so we can expand access to care for families across our state. By allowing for greater access to federal resources, this legislation will encourage more public-private partnerships to invest and grow child care options for Iowa’s working families.”
“Child care is essential for children, families, and America’s long-term economic success, and we need innovative solutions like the ACCESS Act to ensure communities have the resources they need to build and strengthen child care systems that work for families and contribute to our economic recovery after this pandemic,” said First Five Years Fund (FFYF) Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “FFYF thanks Senator Ernst for her continued leadership and commitment to ensuring all Americans who need it have access to the quality early learning opportunities that support children’s healthy development and allow parents to pursue greater economic security for their families.”
Dan Levi, Black Hawk Child Care Coalition Co-Founder, said, “The ACCESS Act will provide additional funding to support communities as they move forward planning a new or expansion child care project.”
The ACCESS Act has broad support from Iowans and Iowa community groups, includding the Cedar Rapids Economic Alliance, Cedar Valley Growth, the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce, the Black Hawk County Child Care Coalition, and Exceptional Persons, Inc.
Congresswoman Hinson also recently introduced the Child CARE Act, legislation that will help Congress make informed policy decisions on how best use limited federal resources to expand access to affordable, quality child care options in Iowa and across the country.