Nurturing Our Workforce: Johnson County’s Wage Enhancement Program for Child Care

Posted January 16, 2024
Child care wage enhancement program in greater Iowa city for centers.

The landscape of the workforce is changing and with it, the needs of employees. As businesses strive to attract and retain top talent, there’s a growing realization that addressing the childcare dilemma is not just a family concern but a crucial workforce issue. In Johnson County, Iowa, a proactive initiative is underway to make childcare more affordable and accessible through the Wage Enhancement Program. Local businesses are investing in childcare through this innovative program, aligning with their commitment through Better Together 2030 to creating affordable and accessible childcare for our community.


Childcare: A Workforce Imperative

The importance of childcare as a workforce issue cannot be overstated. According to Lynette Jacoby, Director of Johnson County Social Services, the county faces a staffing challenge, leading to empty classrooms in childcare centers. The shortage of childcare workers is a significant impediment to the smooth functioning of these centers, impacting families and businesses alike.


The Wage Enhancement Program

Wage enhancement program for child care centers logo

To tackle this challenge head-on, business and community leaders in Johnson County have introduced the Wage Enhancement Program, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at supporting childcare centers and their staff. Full-time employees at qualifying childcare centers will receive a substantial wage increase of $2 per hour. Administered by Johnson County Social Services, this program not only directly benefits the childcare workers but also ensures the continued provision of high-quality childcare services. The program also pays all associated FICA and payroll taxes up to $.153 per $2.00 of wage enhancement.

Funding & Implementation

Community collaboration lies at the heart of this transformative program. The City of Iowa City and Johnson County jointly invest $250,000 per year to fund the operation of the Child Care Solutions program for three years, totaling $1.5M of ARPA dollars. To make this sustainable beyond ARPA funds, local businesses in the greater Iowa City area are asked to contribute $150 per year per employee to sponsor this initiative, showcasing a shared commitment to the community’s workforce and families.

How Your Business and Team Can Get Involved

Businesses in Johnson County are encouraged to play an active role in supporting the Wage Enhancement Program. Contributions to the Childcare Coalition Charitable Giving Fund can be made through a tax deductible contribution to the fund held at the Community Foundation of Johnson County or businesses can pledge their support to these Child Care Solutions. These donations directly contribute to the success of the program, fostering a community-wide commitment to the workforce and families. Private employer contributions to this program were matched 2:1 recently by the State of Iowa and with this, the coalition has been able to raise almost $150,000 in the last six months alone – but continued support is critical to ensure this program is sustainable.

Connect and Learn More

Whether through donations, pledges, or active involvement, businesses can play a vital role in shaping a future where accessible and affordable childcare is a reality for all. By investing in childcare, businesses, local authorities, and community members are working together to build a future where every child has access to quality care. Every family can participate in the workforce, and every business benefits from a robust, engaged, and stable workforce.