Iowa Women’s Foundation hosts child care summit

DES MOINES — A Republican in the Iowa legislature says she’ll continue to push for an idea to boost state payments to Iowa child care centers.

Representative Megan Jones of Sioux Rapids says the state could continue to make child care assistance payments for days when kids are out sick. She got the idea from the director of her own kids’ daycare who was filling out the required paperwork.  “Here was this director sitting before me telling me that paperwork and red tape is what was the most stressful part of her day, when she really just wanted to go work with kids,” Jones says.

Jones introduced a bill in the 2023 legislative session that’s still eligible for debate in 2024. It would have the state pay for each day a child is enrolled in a daycare, even if they’re out for part of a day or a full day. Jones made her comments during a child care summit hosted by the Iowa Women’s Foundation.

Lawmakers recently expanded eligibility for child care assistance for low-income families and boosted payments to providers. Representative Heather Matson, a Democrat from Ankeny, say those are positive changes, but Iowa still has a child care crisis to solve. “The vast majority of families in this state — and in this country for that matter, right? — their families are not necessarily on child care assistance, but it is fundamentally unaffordable for almost all families,” Matson says.

Matson says the state needs to focus on stabilizing the child care workforce with higher wages and benefits.

Republican Senator Jeff Edler of State Center says the gradual approach G-O-P lawmakers are taking on child care issues gives Iowa taxpayers the best bang for their buck.