Iowa groups back $16 billion bill extending child care support


By the end of September, nearly $24 billion in funding for child care services in the US will go away—making a bad problem much worse.

It means 13,745 Iowa children are expected to lose care and 401 child care programs in Iowa are expected to close when the money runs out, according to survey research from the Century Foundation, an independent think tank.

Calling on Congress

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and nearly 1,000 child care providers and advocates are calling for Congress to pass $16 billion a year for child care funding to prevent the worst from happening.

Five Iowa organizations signed on: Common Good Iowa; Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children; Sisters of the Presentation, Dubuque; Vinton Early Learning Center; and YWCA Clinton

“The situation is dire. With the child care dollars expiring, the squeeze on child care providers will mount in Iowa, causing families to lose access and providers to continue to struggle,” said Shelia Hansen, senior policy advocate and government relations manager for Common Good Iowa, in an email.

On Wednesday, Congressional Democrats introduced the bill to extend the stabilization grant program and provide $16 billion a year for the next five years. Of the 35 co-sponsors in the Senate and 78 in the House, all are Democratic members—meaning none are from Iowa.

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What the money would do for Iowans

Hansen said that $16 billion would stop the shrinking number of child care spots, cover staffing shortages and head off the rising price of child care costs.

Iowa was able to invest in 24 projects with the $227.6 million it received from the Child Care Stabilization program. The grant was designed to support child care operations and help cover personnel costs, rent and facilities, COVID mitigation equipment, and more.

A report from October 2022 released by the Office of Child Care at the US Department of Health and Human Services broke down the benefits to Iowa specifically.

Providers in all 99 counties received funds, and 855 child care centers received payments that mostly went to staff wages. Of the 1,300 child care family homes that received payments, the money mostly went to rent and mortgage—typically a home’s highest operating expense.

On average, child care centers in Iowa received $210,500, and family homes received $27,700.

Child care is a complicated balance of staffing, the costs to pay that staff, the price parents have to pay in order to obtain child care and the availability of care in the first place.

Some of those costs for running centers are relatively fixed, and most parents are in a position where their children are young and need care the most, but they aren’t yet making the money to adequately cover the cost.

According to a 2023 report, problems with child care cost the US economy $122 billion a year in lost earnings, productivity and taxes.


Nikoel Hytrek

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