Bill would let 16 and 17 year olds be sole employee in child care rooms

DES MOINES — Republicans in the Iowa House are considering a bill that would let 16-year-olds work in child care facilities on their own, without having an adult supervisor in the room.

Wade Riedinger is executive director for the Iowa Alliance of YMCAs, which supports the bill. He says 16 and 17 year olds already serve as lifeguards and youth sports officials.

“Our families are facing waiting lists to get into our child care centers and we feel that this bill will give our child care directors the opportunity of having a bigger pool of candidates,” he says.

Janee Harvey with the Department of Human Services says Iowa would be the only state to let 16 and 17 year olds work, unsupervised, in child care centers or homes that provide child care, and it could jeopardize federal funding.

“I want to make clear, especially like a child development home — so it’s not a child care center where you have other adults around — with this current change, you could have a 16-year-old alone with up to 12 kids,” Harvey says. “That raises some significant concerns.”

Harvey says her agency is proposing that 15-year-olds be allowed to work at child care centers, but keeping adult supervision for all minors. Key lawmakers working on the issue say they’re considering changes to the bill before it’s debated in a House committee.

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