DES MOINES, Iowa — The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed Iowa families' issues with gaining access to good, affordable child care, which is what led Gov. Kim Reynolds to launch the Governor's Child Care Task Force.
Reynolds announced the launch of the task force during a COVID-19 press conference on March 10. Just under one month after her announcement, the task force met for the very first time.
At the first meeting, members of the task force addressed the biggest obstacles facing families. The goal is to have solutions for those obstacles by the summer.
The task force has to issue a report by July.
Members outlined the facts and figures behind child care deserts in Iowa, which are pockets of the state where there are few, if any, options for child care facilities.
The task force reported 23% of Iowans live within child care deserts.
A few statistics mentioned in the meeting include:
- Iowa loses $935 million every year as a result of child care breakdowns, including tax revenue, absences and employee turnover
- 69% of Iowa parents rely on family members for at least some child care
- More than half of parents report missing work due to child care issues
- 52% of parents say they voluntarily left a job when their child was one year old or younger
- 23% of enrolled parents postponed shool or a training program due to child care issues
Besides those stats, members of the task force also discussed the economic impact of Iowa's child care shortage:
- Working parents with children younger than three lose, on average, more than $3,000 a year
- Over a 13-year time frame, parents lose more than $8,000
Lastly, the task force discussed how Iowa compares to other states in the Midwest. Among neighboring states, Iowa has the third-lowest number of child care workers.
According to the task force, Iowa lost 33% of available child care in the last five years.
The full report from the first meeting can be viewed below: