On March 10th, Governor Reynolds signed Executive Order 8 launching a new Child Care Task Force to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the child care shortage and barrier to work in Iowa. The Business Partnership is excited to announce that Jennifer Banta, our VP of Advocacy & Community Development,  has been named to this task force and will be joining the Child Care Workforce Issues and Increasing Employer Investment working groups.

In September 2019, the Business Partnership convened area stakeholders, child care providers, parents and non-profit organizations to find solutions to the child care crises in our area. Since then, the Business Partnership has been facilitating quarterly meetings to move that work forward, as well as develop a child care providers Peer-to-Peer Group to support providers through the pandemic. The Business Partnership’s leadership in addressing affordable, high-quality child care solutions has been instrumental in shedding more light on this important issue.

The Department of Human Services and Iowa Workforce Development worked together to strategically award $12,052,958 from the DHS Investing in Iowa’s Child Care funding program and $1,000,414 in Child Care Challenge grants to all eligible applicants throughout the state. Child Care Challenge grants support community projects to establish local childcare facilities, while the DHS funding provides support for equipment, personnel, training, and supplies for new or ongoing child care facilities. “

When we remove the obstacles to high-quality, affordable child care, our families can nurture their kids while maintaining maximum freedom to enter and remain in the workforce,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Today’s announcement will further our efforts to provide high-quality, affordable access to child care in every corner of the state.” 

“This is a big day for workforce development in Iowa because of the significant investment we are making in expanding child care availability through our investments in 64 different projects around the state, ” said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development.

To capitalize on this investment, and in furtherance of the recommendation of the Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, Governor Reynolds announced an executive order to establish a new Child Care Task Force, led by Emily Schmitt with Sukup Manufacturing. In 100 days, the task force will present recommendations to the Governor to address Iowa’s child care crisis.

The central purpose of the task force is to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the numerous issues that contribute to the child care barrier to work in Iowa. The strategy will serve as a foundation for potential action by the Governor, legislature, communities and employers to reduce both short- and long-term barriers. The task force will utilize the following four working groups to facilitate detailed discussion and leverage the expertise and experience of additional interested stakeholders and community members beyond the named members of the task force:

  • Regulatory Barriers & Financing Options – Will address child care regulations that pose barriers to increased child care slots in Iowa and lack of available financing options for the creation and infrastructure of daycare facilities.
  • Expanding Eligibility for Child Care Assistance (CCA) – Will address the so-called “child care cliff” effect, or the gap that occurs when families lose child care assistance at a disproportionate rate due to a slight increase in wages.
  • Child Care Workforce Issues – Will address child care workforce issues, including recruitment and retention, reimbursement rates and health insurance. 
  • Increasing Employer Investment and Engagement Opportunities in Child Care – Will address how to develop employer investment and engagement opportunities internally and within their communities.

Members of the task force representing business, non-profit and community organizations, child care providers and local government include:

Jennifer Banta, Iowa City Area Business Partnership  Lisa Gates, Friendship Village  Miranda Niemi, Quality Beginnings  David Arens, Wells Fargo  Pastor Philip Herman, Highland Park Community Development Association Dawn Oliver Wiand, Iowa Women’s Foundation  Dianna Williams, Ann Wickman Childcare Center YMCA  Erika Fuentes, Crittenton Center  Teree Caldwell-Johnson, Oakridge Neighborhood  Mayor Roy Buol, Dubuque    Mayor Gene Newgaard, Iowa Falls  Josh Laraby, Fairfield Economic Development Association  Jenna Ramsey, Stanton Community Development  Amy Bice, Child Development Home Provider, Cherokee  Raven Walker, Child Development Home Provider, Council Bluffs  Tessa Dinsdale, Lincoln Savings Bank Mary Janssen, Childcare Resource and Referral of Northeast Iowa.