At a pair of town halls hosted by the state’s Child Care Task Force, parents and providers shared the frustrations and challenges of navigating Iowa’s broken child care system. But both groups were full of potential solutions as well. Below are some of the best suggestions from both sessions, which task force members pledged to […]
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At a pair of town halls hosted by the state’s Child Care Task Force, parents and providers shared the frustrations and challenges of navigating Iowa’s broken child care system.
But both groups were full of potential solutions as well. Below are some of the best suggestions from both sessions, which task force members pledged to take under advisement as they ready their report, due out in mid-July.
On getting more people into the field faster and retaining workforce:
- One thing that I think would be a great way of alleviating some of this would be to make the [Child Development Associate] accreditation certificate more well-known and more widespread for high school students to accomplish before they graduate. I’m a family consumer science teacher by trade, and it’s something that very few [of us] are actually able to do, to jump through all the hoops to get their students certified by the time they graduate. But it is possible, and it’s something that I think more high schools could take on to better their community [and] to get more high school seniors certified to be well-trained child care workers if that’s the field that they’re going into.
– Lori Burton, Glenwood
- At our center, people usually start off at $8-$10 an hour. And that’s not a livable wage, as we all know. What I’m going to suggest — and I think it’s a very progressive idea, so I don’t think it’ll go far — is there needs to be a state or federal program that pays directly to the day care worker on top of that regular pay … I have a big concern with the high turnover rate with my kids. I don’t think it’s healthy for them.
– Alicia, no last name or city offered
- There is no incentive to go into the child care field. I feel like some changes could be made to make it a more reputable profession for people to go into and to offer education for those people, whether you put it under a school system or offer incentives to school systems that choose to encompass child care within their schools. Then you could maybe have access to licensed teachers, and some of those licensed teachers could potentially be your child care workers as well, [along with] associates … Then you’re not only offering extremely quality early education systems but … if you put it under the public school system somehow, you could also have access to those early programs for children’s needs program, whether they be your children in foster care or your children from disadvantaged home environments.
– Dara Greenland, Mount Ayr
On revamping the system to address hard-to-place medically needy and foster children:
- I think finding [people] who have an interest and the ability to care for individuals who are medically needy is incredibly important, especially for those like us who weren’t able to qualify for Medicaid right away. And we’re still on a waiting list, which is a whole other topic … It is really important because there are countless kiddos like my son, who require specialized child care above the basic things that we might already be receiving for our typical children.
– Shannon Grundmeier, Ames
- For the past six to eight months, I looked for child care for a child with a feeding tube. I’ve called 63 day cares to date. And either nobody has room or has the capacity to take care of a child with a feeding tube … I’d love to see the state somehow support those people, those nurses that do want to do childcare … for those medically needy families. And on the foster care side, I’d like to see some daycares that would open just for foster families.
– Madison, Cedar Valley
On getting employers involved in the solution:
- Recently, we’ve made a lot of movement on the maternity leave/ paternity leave ideas and those are picking up steam in the private business world. I just wonder if one of the next steps is an employer-based child care program. If we can get large companies to grab on to that, it’ll create a wave or a new trend. We can sort of sell it in terms of keeping moms in the workforce. I spend so much time every day pumping, not being necessarily productive for my employer.
– Erica Schaefer, Des Moines
On incentivizing retention:
- My concern is retaining that workforce — recruitment, retention and turnover. Some solutions … are by incentivizing new hires, with sign-on bonuses, uncapping performance raises, giving bonuses to current educators based on years of service, and assistance in acquisition of higher education.
– Jennifer Cooke, Sioux City
- A lot of the reason why we have such a shortage of providers is because we don’t have things like retirement benefits. We don’t have access to affordable health insurance … so a lot of providers are leaving to go to a job that has those opportunities. I think if we can get something in place where we could pay for our health insurance as a self-employed person, our own policy …[because] that affordable health insurance is just not there. I have health insurance through my husband’s work, but it’s extremely expensive. It doesn’t cover very much. And my kids are actually on hawk-i because insurance is so expensive. That’s a huge struggle for providers [in] looking at long-term retention.
– Justina Yoder, West Liberty
On opening the field to younger workers:
- Currently, you cannot have children younger than 16 working with an adult supervisor. We have kids that are driving cars at 14. They take babysitting instruction at that same age; I would ask that DHS maybe consider lowering that to 15 or 14; that gives us a bigger pool of people to pull from. And along those lines, for all of our day care workers, maybe consider a tax credit for those people who are in the child care industry, so they don’t have any state income tax up to a certain level of income. I’d like to see the federal government do the same thing. Because we’re trying to encourage child care — we found out how important it is during this pandemic to get people back to work.
– Bill Robinson, Garnavillo
More on the tax credit to help defray Child Care Assistance losses:
- Talking about the loss providers take on Child Care Assistance, why not a tax credit allowing us to write off those losses? When we take a Child Care Assistance, we take that loss. There is the employer-provided child care tax credit — a federal tax credit that allows if the business is primarily child care and a third of your children are employees’ kids, then you can take that tax credit for credit … We’ve got these priority groups under the child development block grants, such as non-traditional hours, low income, disability, at-risk — I think it’s five different target groups. How about if the providers [with] more than a third of their kids falling into at least one of those groups, they get to take that same tax credit?
– Deb VanderGaast, Tipton