Campaign aims to support region’s child care providers

By CBJ News Staff

The Iowa City Area Business Partnership and the Iowa Women’s Foundation (IWF) have joined forces to launch CAREforce for our WORKforce, a campaign to increase the recognition of child care providers as essential, professional workers.

“Pre-COVID-19, Johnson County had a shortfall of over 12,900 child care spaces,” Jennifer Banta, vice president of the Business Partnership, said in a news release. “There were 2.4 children needing care for every one slot available. To make matters worse, the cost of child care in Johnson County is twice the national average.”

Ms. Banta said the organizations organized community leaders to identify solutions to the issue and the availability of quality, affordable child care, and the resulting campaign is helping child care centers grow their workforce and continue to provide care through the pandemic.

The Iowa City Area Business Partnership and IWF are distributing window clings, stickers, posters, and yard signs emblazed with the CAREforce for our WORKforce logo. IWF has also launched a web page for those interested in helping their local providers.

“Child care workers are not babysitters — they are highly-trained professionals who provide the critical early childhood support kids need for success later in life,” IWF Executive Director Dawn Oliver Wiand said in a news release. “They’re essential for parents. They’re essential for businesses. And they are essential for society as we know it.”

Community-wide support will play an important role in the campaign’s effectiveness, according to IWF leaders.

“Without the resources and support needed to survive, providers are closing their doors at alarming rates and many will not be able to reopen. We need a coordinated effort to stem this tide,” said Ms. Wiand. “That starts, first and foremost, with getting everyone in our state — parents, grandparents, business leaders, elected officials — to recognize child care providers as the essential professionals they are.” CBJ