Advocates say child care shortage still growing in Iowa

[image courtesy NCDHHS]

By O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa
Advocates say waiting lists are still growing for child care slots in Iowa and it will take more money from all sorts of sources to boost the pay and benefits for child care workers.

Dawn Oliver Wiand is CEO of the Iowa Women’s Foundation, which has a program focused on helping communities come up with new child care options. “This issue is really big,” Wiand says. “…It’s going to take multiple solutions in multiple ways. We need to see both federal and state dollars, but we also need to see business dollars and philanthropic dollars.”

Alex Glenn is the human resources director for Generation Next, a company that has 250 employees working in five different child care centers in central Iowa. The company recently increased benefits for its workforce, but Glenn says it may not be enough to keep employees.

“Once they leave us, they don’t go another child care center. They leave the field entirely. They go to somewhere where there’s less burnout, where there’s less stress and where they have better benefits,” he says. “…Nobody goes from Wells Fargo to child care.”

Glenn and Wiand made their comments this weekend on “Iowa Press” on Iowa PBS. Iowa lawmakers are considering a series of proposals to boost child care options for Iowa parents, including regulatory changes for building and operating a child care center as well as tax incentives for opening a child care business.