Two years ago, a constituent came to me with a photo of his grandson who had died in child-care. He asked me to do anything I could to make sure that children are safe in Iowa’s child-care centers so that what happened to his grandson would not happen to another child.
Since that meeting with that grandfather, I have been dedicated to improving child care quality, access, and affordability. My priority must always be the safety and enrichment of the child.
This week, Republicans passed a bill out of the Human Resources Committee that would allow child-care centers to increase the ratios of adults to children under 3. This means less enrichment and reduced safety. Children need to develop relationships with their caretakers and the more children in the group, the less opportunity each has for one-on-one attention.
Providing quality child-care in the first five years of life is essential for a child’s long term mental, intellectual, emotional and physical health. How does this bill work to improve standards of care? The answer is it doesn’t. It will not increase access and quality will go down.
Families and employers need child care and it is a nationwide crisis. When we make the job more difficult, how can we expect more people to want to provide child care? Our first priority must be assuring quality. HF 2131 does not improve standards for Iowa’s children.
HSB 508 passed through a subcommittee on Wednesday. The bill would cost the state approximately $3.5 million to verify the assets of individuals applying for food assistance (SNAP). Households on food assistance would be limited to one car and the car must be worth less than $4,650. If their vehicle is worth more, advocates for the bill said that SNAP applicants should sell it to pay for their food. We know, morally, that is wrong. We all know, a car is necessary in Iowa to get to and from a job. SNAP is one of our most effective methods of delivering stimulus, it is federal money that comes back to the state to make sure families who are living on Iowa’s low wages can afford to feed and house their children.
It’s not just working people who benefit from SNAP; many elderly Iowans rely on SNAP to supplement social security income. We need to do better for Iowans. HSB 508 is classist and mean spirited.
These two bills demonstrate Republican disregard for Iowans, of all ages, who need our assistance most. Our children are being ignored, our workers are being stretched too thin, and our families are being unduly punished for attempting to better themselves. These bills do not make Iowa a better place to raise a family. HSB 508 and HF 2131 are the proposals that drive families and workers away.
To keep us focused, I will repeat my priorities for 2022:
- I am committed to bringing our schools back to their historic place as the best in the nation, uplifting our students and equipping them with the skills they need to grow into adulthood.
- I want to create a welcoming Iowa where people want to move, to work, play and raise their families.
- I am committed to making sure all families have access to affordable and quality child care.
- I want to create a tax plan that is progressive and fair for all Iowans.
- I am committed to fighting divisive bills that create an unwelcoming environment in Iowa that drives our young people to seek better opportunities elsewhere.
- I want to review and strengthen our open records laws to ensure that our government remains accountable to Iowans.
- I am committed to work towards the preservation of our natural resources.
- My commitment is to create a safe and welcoming state for all.