Public Policy is a powerful tool for change.
In order to lead change, IWF educates policy makers and other community leaders regarding issues and solutions to Iowa women’s economic security.
Women and girls in Iowa still face many challenges, including economic insecurity.
- 70% of our female headed households are struggling economically
- 40% are living below the federal poverty level
- 30% are low-income working families – living above the federal poverty level but below the self-sufficiency level.
To understand why women and girls are struggling and what barriers impact their success, IWF launched our state tour SHE MATTERS: We Listen and Iowa Wins in 2015. We held focus groups in 18 communities across Iowa, where we learned there are six barriers: employment, child care, housing, education/training, transportation and mentors.
IWF returned to those 18 communities in 2016, we shared the results, interacted with the findings and identified a course of action to address one of the barriers the communities felt was the most significant— child care. The solid data reinforces this need within the state of Iowa:
75% of Iowa households with children under the age of 6 have all parents working outside the home. There is a shortfall of 361,677 spaces and on average 1 in 2 children go without access to affordable quality child care.
The Midwest is the only region of the United States where there are more job openings then there are job seekers. On indeed.com you can find over 34,000 open jobs in Iowa.
In many Iowa communities, child care has become unaffordable, inaccessible or nonexistent. As a result, working parents miss work, drop shifts, are less engaged on the job, switch employers, or leave the workforce all together.
Iowa has lost 42% of its child care businesses over the past five years.
Child care is an essential and under emphasized tool for our state to develop, grow and sustain a reliable work force.
Research consistently shows that increasing workers’ access to affordable, quality child care options isn’t simply a benefit for parents; it improves the economy. Providing access to quality affordable child care positively impacts the bottom line of Iowa Companies and its critical to sustaining a strong workforce and economy.
Our research and community conversations tell us, Iowa is in a child care crisis. This crisis is not just a family issue but a workforce, business and community issue as well.
“I applaud the Iowa Women’s Foundation for their efforts to address the Childcare Crisis in our state. Providing quality, accessible, affordable childcare for all families throughout Iowa should be a top priority for our state lawmakers. I support the toolkit IWF has been providing local communities to help them find solutions to address their childcare deserts. This is an economic issue for our state and could help address the worker shortage businesses are facing.” – Iowa State Representative Mary Mascher
To learn more about the consequences of the child care crisis on Iowa’s families, businesses and communities click here.
IWF believes public policy and advocacy work play a key role in alleviating the child care crisis. IWF’s state-wide public policy approach to this crisis is nonpartisan. It is based on research and collaboration. We work in local communities and at the state level where innovation and investment can increase the availability of quality affordable child care that empowers women, grows Iowa’s workforce and leads to positive economic change for our businesses and communities.
IWF’s public policy and advocacy work includes:
- Produce and share research on key issues impacting women, girls and their family’s economic security
- Highlight programs and innovative solutions that can be scaled across the state to increase the availability of quality affordable child care
- Provide lawmakers and decision-makers with timely, targeted information in order to shape policies supporting innovative, doable solutions to the child care crisis.
- Bring together partners from local communities across the state to engage and mobilize around priority issues, initiatives and programs in support of Iowa’s families, businesses and communities.
Driving meaningful change in public policy is a powerful way to shatter the barriers keeping Iowa’s women from economic self-sufficiency.
Together, we are stronger!