DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- Governor Reynolds signed an Executive Order Wednesday creating the Child Care Task Force to address the child care shortage and barrier to work in Iowa.
"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," Gov. Reynolds said. "Today’s announcement will further our efforts to provide high-quality, affordable access to child care in every corner of the state."
Gov. Reynolds also announced two child care grant programs that total $13,053,372 and will contribute to the creation of more than 4,000 new child care slots across Iowa, according to the press release.
The Governor made both announcements during a news conference Wednesday morning.
The Department of Human Services and Iowa Workforce Development awarded $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 projects to establish childcare facilities, while the DHS funding provides support for equipment, personnel, training, and supplies for child care facilities.
"The Child Care Challenge was created to bolster and support innovative partnerships between leaders in the community and key stakeholders in the private and public sector," Gov. Reynolds said. "Today’s investment allows us to leverage existing resources from DHS to further grow the scope of our program."
"As a working mom, I know how important child care is," Iowa DHS Director Kelly Garcia said. "Child care is the backbone of our workforce and serves as an early learning platform for our children."
"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," IWD Director Beth Townsend said.
The Child Care Task Force will be led by Emily Schmitt of Sukup Manufacturing, who spoke during Wednesday's news conference. The task force will present recommendations to Gov. Reynold within the next 100 days to address Iowa's child care crisis. The task force is made up of nearly 20 members representing business, non-profit and community organizations, child care providers, and local government. Additional task force members 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
- Mary Janssen, Childcare Resource and Referral of Northeast Iowa
- 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
Wednesday's news conference can be seen here:
The full executive order can be found here:
The announcements from Governor Reynolds come after lawmakers in the Iowa House approved two bills that will provide tax incentives for developers and businesses to build new child care facilities or improve existing ones.
House File 712 calls for 60% of the available tax credits to be reserved for small communities (those outside Iowa's 11 most populous counties). If the tax credits are not claimed by May 1, the remainder could be used by any eligible applicant.
Applications will be reviewed by the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
House File 606 would allow a business' new or expanded on-site day care to qualify as a project under the High Quality Jobs Program. Businesses that offer low-cost child care on-site would be eligible for tax incentives or assistance through the program, which is overseen by the IEDA.
Both bills have been sent to the Senate for approval.