Iowa Public Radio: Iowa House panel advances proposals from child care task force
A panel of Iowa state representatives advanced the first pair of bills to come out of the governor’s child care task force Wednesday.
The first bill applies to low-income families who get government-funded child care assistance (CCA).
It would allow child care centers to collect additional money from these families to help make up the difference between what the government pays and what the center charges families who don’t get assistance.
Families would have to agree in writing to pay extra.
Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, said the bill would not require families to pay more.
“CCA spots at their current pay rate will still be available,” Meyer said. “This is an option for families if they choose to take it. It’s not a requirement.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, no lobbying groups were registered in support of the bill. The United Ways of Iowa and Common Good Iowa were registered in opposition.
Last year, the Iowa Legislature passed a law that allows people receiving child care assistance to phase out of the program as their income goes up, rather than drop off of a financial “cliff.” Democrats had called for also expanding eligibility to enter the child care assistance program, but the Republican majority did not agree to that.
The second child care bill that advanced Wednesday would loosen the minimum staffing requirements for caring for toddlers.
The bill would change minimum staffing ratios from the current one adult for every six 2-year-olds to eight 2-year-olds, and from one adult for every eight 3-year-olds to 10 3-year-olds. Some see this as a key strategy for expanding child care availability in Iowa.
“This is a ceiling,” Meyer said. “This is not a requirement for child care centers to take this on. This is their choice.”
The Iowa Alliance of YMCA's and Opportunity Solutions Project, a group associated with a conservative think tank, registered in support of the bill. United Ways of Iowa, the Iowa Federation of Labor, Iowa Conference of United Methodist Church, and United Way of Central Iowa registered against the bill.