The Republican-led Iowa House of Representatives passed two bills Wednesday aimed at expanding access to child care, but Democratic lawmakers warned the proposals could negatively affect providers, parents and children.

One bill would allow people receiving government-funded child care assistance to enter into agreements with child care providers to pay some extra money.

Rep. Joel Fry, R-Osceola, said it is one piece of the puzzle of improving child care in the state.

“If I am a family that receives child care assistance, and I want to work out a rate with a provider in my community who doesn’t otherwise take child care assistance, I can have that conversation with them and have the option to pay the difference between the [CCA] rate and the private pay rate,” Fry said.


The second bill that passed would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to care for school-age kids at a child care center without adult supervision.


Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, said the bill provides an option for child care centers to help with staffing. Meyer said one of her constituents who runs a child care center asked for this change.

“This is a workforce issue,” Meyer said. “This is not the only thing that’s going to solve this problem. But it is part of the issue. It is opening up more possibilities to child care centers if they choose to take them.”

Meyer said she has heard of insurance companies that will insure child care centers with teens working unsupervised.

The bill passed 55-43, with a few Republicans joining Democrats in voting no. Both bills now go to the Senate.

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