On March 10th, Governor Kim Reynolds launched a task force to confront Iowa’s child care crisis. The 17 member task force includes the Iowa Women’s Foundation’s President/CEO, Dawn Oliver Wiand. Along with the task force, over $13 million will be dedicated the to mission of providing accessible child care to many more Iowans.
When asked about being named to the task force, Dawn said, “IWF’s extensive work related to child care has prepared us for this moment. We’ve done our research and we know how to bring communities together around solutions. As a member of the task force, I’m ready to take action. IWF’s past successes can serve as a guide to help the task force make informed decisions around child care now, so Iowa’s working parents don’t have to keep waiting for the help they need.”
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.
While Dawn represents IWF and our mission on the task force, the task force and the investment in child care has been something many, many people have worked for—both as a part of the Iowa Women’s Foundation work and as IWF partners. We are grateful for the work so many have done to lay the groundwork for this and while we know there is much more work to do, we are excited to celebrate this first, big step.