March 06, 2021

House advances important child care legislation

This week, the House Human Resources Committee passed four bipartisan bills related to child care. These bills are part of a legislative package brought forward by the House to increase child care workforce, increase provider rates to maintain existing child care facilities, provide incentives to develop new child care facilities, and support hard-working families afford the high cost of child care.

Now, more than ever, child care is a key factor in getting Iowans back to work throughout this public health emergency. Unfortunately, 81 Child Care Centers and 41 Child Care Development Homes have closed since March making it even more difficult for parents to find affordable child care for their family.

The four bills that are now eligible for the House Floor:

House Study Bill 3 establishes a state funded off-ramp program from Child Care Assistance (CCA) that will gradually increase cost-sharing from families as they increase their income. This bill removes the ceiling on Iowan’s ability to be successful. You often hear about the cliff effect in government programs – where individuals are stuck in welfare dependency and the program is limiting their ability to take a raise or promotion. This bill addresses the cliff effect in Child Care Assistance.

House Study Bill 2 provides significant rate increases to child care providers accepting Child Care Assistance. By increasing all child care provider rates up to the 50th percentile of the most recent Market Rate Survey and providing increases to quality child care programs, this bill will annually increase money going towards child care by $13.3 million.

House File 6 establishes a public/private partnership to expand the child care workforce in the state. This bill will help recruit and retain child care providers in Iowa by providing matching funds to communities that match the state funds.

House Study Bill 7, as amended by the committee, will allow nonregistered child care homes to increase by one school-aged child. This bill is important for rural Iowa parents who do not have access to a child care center in their area.

Additional bills from the House on child care will be considered in the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Economic Growth Committee. In total, this child care legislative package will take significant steps to address child care access and affordability throughout the state.