Governor signs child care expansion into law

FORT DODGE — Governor Kim Reynolds has signed a bill into law that’s expected to offer child care assistance to more Iowans.

It raises the income limit for families to qualify and increases government payments to facilities that care for the kids from those families. Reynolds says it’s been about 15 years since the state raised the income limit for state child care assistance. Parents have had to work at least 28 hours a week to qualify. The new law raises that to 32 hours a week.

“It’s just minimal and I think we’re just really doing whatever we can to really help families, but to encourage them,” Reynolds says. “We have such a workforce shortage in the state of Iowa.”

Tammy McNeil is the owner and director of Childcare Discovery Center in Fort Dodge, where Reynolds signed the bill into law. She says the higher payments to providers will help her center a lot, as the parents of nearly half the kids are getting government-funded child care assistance.

“I have been in child care for almost 40 years and to watch it slowly crumble has been heartbreaking,” she said. “Thank you for recognizing the importance of child care and working directly with us to address our concerns and take action.”

Reynolds was surrounded by children enrolled in McNeil’s center as she signed the bill into law. The Legislative Services Agency estimates nearly 27-hundred more children will be enrolled in the state’s child care assistance program due to the hike in income eligibility for parents.