New Iowa map of child care options available amid COVID-19 crisis

Governor Kim Reynolds says it’s important to keep child care centers open for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged kids, so workers in health care, emergency response and the food industry can stay on the job.

“We need to support them at this time by continuing to care for their young children so they can do what’s necessary to serve the needs of Iowans,” Reynolds said during a Sunday afternoon news conference.

Reynolds is asking schools, churches and other community organizations to consider how they may help provide child care to the kids of workers who are providing essential services during the pandemic.

“Some communities have already stepped up; 117 school districts and non-public schools have said that they’re willing and able to provide the space needed for child care programs,” Reynolds said, “and 94 of those have staff to get a program up and running.”

The Iowa Department of Human Services has a map posted online that lists child care openings around the state.

“Parents can scan by county and see openings by age group. They’ll even be able to click on a button and call a center directly,” DHS director Kelly Garcia told reporters.

The temperature of all children and staff must be taken before they enter any Iowa child care.

“Children and staff with a fever of 100.4 or above must go home — no exceptions,” Garcia said. “Distancing as much as possible within existing centers is highly encouraged and we’d also ask that all centers remove plush toys, prohibit toys brought from home and send all blankets that children use during the day for naptime home daily for cleaning.”

More than 4300 Iowa homes and centers are licensed to provide child care.

“Many have shifted their business model to serve non-school-aged children of first responders and hospital staff,” Garcia said. “You, too, are public servants caring for children and keeping them safe during this unprecedented time.”

State officials announced on Sunday that new test results had confirmed 22 more positive cases of COVID-19 in Iowa. A total a 90 positive cases have been identified in 24 of Iowa’s 99 counties.

— Radio Free Iowa