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Ernst, Hinson push for more money to better access to childcare

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KWWL) -- Through bipartisan legislation, Senator Joni Ernst is advocating for more federal dollars to improve access to childcare nationwide.

Much of the nation and Iowa have long dealt with having childcare deserts, areas where demand for licensed childcare programs exceeds availability.

"There's not a lot of pushback on these ideas, especially when you have private entities that are partenring in a public way to assist the community," Ernst said.

The ACCESS Act, Affordable Child Care for Economic Strategies and Success Act, allows public-private partnerships through grants from the Department of Commerce.

Ernst said they chose the funding structure because people are leaving the workforce due to lack of childcare access and employers also feel the impact.

"We're also hearing from employers that they are not able to keep their employees on board because of the lack of childcare," Ernst said.

Representative Ashley Hinson is set to reintroduce a companion bill Friday. In the previous congress, Democrat Rep. Abby Finkenauer, Hinson's predecessor, partnered with Ernst on the bill.

"We need to be looking at systematic changes to the industry," Hinson said. "The provider side is a whole other challenge."

Hinson plans to purse gathering more data on both access to childcare but also affordablility.

"Why is it so expensive? So, that's where you know the regulations and the challenges, that many of these businesses face in running affective business and maintaining an overhead that can provide affordable access, is the true question. It's the root of the problem," Hinson said.

Senator Ernst is also cosponsoring a dependent care bill with Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

"It is a dependent care program where you could set aside your own dollars, and use that for dependent care, whether that's an elderly adult or a child. So, we're doubling the amount that we can set aside in those types of funds," Ernst said.

In a news release, Ernst's office says they've garnerned support from he Cedar Rapids Economic Alliance, Cedar Valley Growth, the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce, the Black Hawk County Child Care Coalition, and Exceptional Persons, Inc.

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Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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