IWF President & CEO Talks Childcare in Iowa

As Iowa legislation considers the latest childcare-related bill (HF 2056), IWF President & CEO Deann Cook was invited to sit down with WHO-13 Des Moines’ Jannay Towne to share more about the childcare crisis in Iowa and beyond.

The bill aims to relieve the childcare workforce shortage by allowing childcare staff as young as 16 years of age to care for infant and toddler children without direct adult supervision. The childcare crisis in Iowa has been a major focal point of IWF’s work and a crucial piece of our mission to shatter the barriers to success faced by women and girls across the state.

“Without childcare, you can’t go to school, you can’t work, you can’t do anything to increase your financial stability.” – Deann Cook, IWF

Bringing more childcare spaces to families isn’t just about physical space within childcare centers, it’s also about strengthening the workforce so we have childcare providers. And in order to do that, workers need to make a livable wage. Currently, childcare providers make an average of $12 an hour, which is one of the lowest-paid jobs in the state.

Iowa is not alone in this problem, but through solutions-focused research, collaboration, and advocacy, IWF has helped establish wage enhancement programs that strengthen the workforce.

Credit: WHO-13 Des Moines

“The Iowa Women’s Foundation works with about 70 communities across the state who are all implementing localized solutions that are replicable,” explained Cook. “Now, it’s just about continuing to scale up all of the creative ideas and investments that are out there and then figuring out how to sustain them.”

On the other hand, most families will spend more on childcare each month than they do on housing. Figuring out how to support families as they seek quality, accessible childcare is another critical piece of the puzzle.

“These are our most precious citizens. They are our future. So, yes, it’s important to our economy right now that we have parents who can be in the workforce, but it’s also important that we’re taking care of our littlest citizens because they are our future.” – Deann Cook, IWF

Explore our childcare resources to learn more about how IWF continues to identify and build childcare solutions that benefit our local economies, businesses, families, women, and most importantly, our children.

To listen to the full interview, visit the WHO-13 website.