Thank you to our 2021 Core Grant Partner—Horizons, a Family Service Alliance—for writing this guest blog. Child care and transportation are two of the biggest barriers to economic self-sufficiency facing Iowa women. Visit our Core Grants page to learn how IWF and its partners tackle these barriers together. And visit to learn more about this wonderful organization.

Poverty is expensive.

While this phrase can be interpreted literally (the cost of everything from fresh food to borrowing money is higher depending on your financial stability), there are costs of poverty that go unspoken or misunderstood.

One of these costs is transportation. Without access to a personal vehicle, individuals and families must rely on whatever forms of transportation are available to them, which impacts nearly every other facet of their lives. 

An individual relying on a fixed route bus service must choose their home, their workplace, their food retailer, and their child care based on what is available within the parameters of that bus route. For some, multiple transfers and long waits require hours-long commutes to work and home again, even within the same city. For others, the ideal school district may be out of reach because it doesn’t allow parents access to adequate employment.

Our program pilot, supported by Iowa Women’s Foundation, works to empower families with child care and employment transportation needs by providing a seamless, on-demand ride from home to child care and to the parent’s workplace.

Up to an hour before the needed ride, a client can reserve, modify, or cancel their trip using our Neighborhood Transportation Service (NTS) mobile app. This allows a parent to pick up extra hours as they are available, cancel a ride if a child is ill, and choose the child care option that works best for their family. NTS drivers are licensed and background-checked Horizons employees, and we have wheelchair and mobility device accessible vehicles.

Thanks to funding from Iowa Women’s Foundation, each ride is only $6 for our clients.