What’s Holding Women Back?

On the state-wide SHE MATTERS tour in 2016, the Iowa Women’s Foundation held focus groups to better understand the barriers keeping women from achieving economic self-sufficiency. Of the 18 communities we visited, 9 self-identified child care as their most pressing barrier.


During the tour, we heard from mothers, nonprofit organizations, political representatives, and business leaders who shared their challenges surrounding child care, and who all expressed a desire to work together to do something to address them. But there is no one-and-done solution to the child care crisis, and there are plenty of challenges:


  • Not only do we need more everyday child care options for working mothers, we need more options for mothers who work nontraditional hours, including early morning and overnight shifts.


  • We need to make child care more accessible to ALL Iowans, including those who live and work in underserved rural areas.


  • And we need to make child care more affordable, while ensuring that providers earn a fair and livable wage.


To better understand the child care barrier and how we might address it, IWF teamed up with partner organizations to form the Building Community Child Care Solutions collaborative. Through this collaboration, communities across Iowa are now able to explore innovative ways to exchange ideas and promote child care investments that support the healthy development of children, as well as a competitive business environment.


Building Community Child Care Solutions

Much like the SHE MATTERS tours, we’ve taken Building Community Child Care Solutions on the road to different Iowa communities. Over the course of the 2018 summer, we’ll be talking to child care providers, nonprofits, businesses and working moms to discuss the issues at hand, and the solutions needed to help Iowa families prosper.


During each visit, we’ll present each participant with a “tool kit” that outlines how different organizations and institutions can partner together to begin planning and implementing various solutions. The solutions include:

  • Building new and expanding existing child care centers.
  • Supporting child care entrepreneurs.
  • Encouraging local businesses to expand and/or add child care benefits, including offering in-house care to workers.
  • Working with community colleges to inform and educate the next generation of child care providers.
  • Supporting before- and after-school programming.
  • And creating viable child care options for second- and third-shift workers.


We have already begun the tour and are excited to continue meeting new people and exchanging ideas! Interested in attending one of the sessions? Check the schedule below to see where we’ll be next:

  • Fort Dodge – May 22 & 23
  • Lee County – May 30
  • Mason City – June 5 & 6
  • Sioux City – June 11
  • Ida County – June 12
  • Storm Lake – June 20
  • Jefferson – June 27 & 28


We’re working hard to add more locations to our 2018 tour. Be sure to Like and Follow IWF on Facebook for updates!


Contact Dawn@iawf.org for details.