Rep. Jones: Child care access important Iowa issue

 

One of the major problems in our economy is child care. Access to child care and the cost of child care are issues I hear a lot about. 

In 2018, the legislature appropriated an annual increase of $7.7 million to child care providers in the Child Care Assistance Program. These higher rates to child care providers were effective January 1, 2019.

Iowa’s Child Care Assistance (CCA) Program is administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and was established in 2000. This program subsidizes child care costs (children under the age of 13) for low-income families with working parents, parents gaining work skills, parents going to school, and parents unable to care for children for a limited time due to physical or mental illness. Iowa ranks No. 1 (tied with MN & NE at 75%) of states with children under age 6 who have all available parents in the labor force, making child care a necessity and is becoming a larger and larger part of the family budget.

In FY 2018, there were 1,526 licensed child care centers, 2,708 registered child care development homes (in-home providers caring for six or more children) and 289 legally operating, nonregistered providers (caring for five or fewer children) that accept payment from the CCA program.

Iowa has prioritized not having a waiting list for parents to receive assistance, allowing parents to work as soon as a job is available, rather than having to turn down the job because they are unable to afford child care. Twenty states have waiting lists before a parent is able to access any assistance with child care costs.

In addition to paying for child care, State and federal funds support the regulation of child care providers and quality improvement activities of providers.

As session progresses, we will continue to open doors for families and make Iowa a more family friendly state.