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Child Care Sprouts

The shortage of child care is a national issue, and one that hits close to home. Iowa has more households with all parents working than any other state in the country, but too few options for child care. The pandemic only made the situation worse, and the ripple effect is further complicating our workforce shortage. Iowa’s child care crisis not only hurts our families. It costs the state close to $1 billion each year in lost tax revenue, employee absences, and turnover.

Governor Reynolds established the Child Care Task Force by Executive Order in March 2021 and charged the group with developing a comprehensive strategic plan to address the child care shortage. The final report was issued in November detailing a number of solutions for families, businesses, providers, and the child care workforce.

Governor Reynolds has directed state agencies to implement many of the report’s recommendations, investing more than $480 million of state and federal funds to address the crisis. The state of Iowa will continue working to expand further access to quality, affordable child care for Iowa’s working families.

  • Created more than 9,000 new child care openings statewide through the Child Care Challenge program.
  • Invested $2.4 million in co-pay reimbursements for Child Care Assistance (CCA) families.
  • Invested $7 million to launch a pilot program with the Council Bluffs Community School District for an early learning center that will serve nearly 200 children from birth to age 5.
  • Launched a program to provide planning grants for school districts to pursue public-private partnerships that blend child care and early learning models.
  • Created a Rural Child Care Market Study Grant program to support rural communities in determining tailored child care solutions.

  • Iowa is the first state to launch the “Best Place for Working Parents” designation for eligible businesses that support family friendly policies, effective January 2022.
  • Providing technical assistance to businesses interested in pursuing child care options for employees.

  • Invested nearly $300 million to help child care providers stay open and address monetary losses during the pandemic.
  • Developing a shared services model that will allow child care providers to access a statewide, web-based partnership platform for business operations support.
  • Reducing regulatory burdens on child development homes and child care centers by addressing child-staff ratios and staffing restrictions.

  • Expanded the T.E.A.C.H. and Child Care WAGE$ programs statewide to boost qualifications and compensation for child care workers.
  • Awarding child care workers a $1,000 recruitment and retention bonus.