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Iowa families still struggling to find child care

Twenty-eight percent of Iowa's cities are child care deserts, according to Iowa Child Care Resource and Referral.

POLK COUNTY, Iowa — More child care options are coming to the Des Moines metro this fall, hoping to fill the vacancies in a state some say lacks adequate optoins.

Twenty-eight percent of Iowa's cities are child care deserts, according to Iowa Child Care Resource and Referral.

In Polk County, there are few deserts, but Des Moines faces the most severe shortage of childcare availability. 

KinderCare is building three new locations: West Des Moines, Grimes and Waukee. 

Accessibility, affordability, and quality are three main concerns with child care. 

"We look forward to serving parents," said Tracy Evenson, the West Des Moines location's director.

The Iowa Department of Human Services regulatory program manager, Ryan Page, said child care was a problem before the pandemic.

“The pandemic really exasperated the issue," she said. “Peak closures for mid-2020 were 65 percent of our licensed childcare centers were closed. We are down now to about 2 percent.”

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For the last year and half, DHS provided stipends to child care providers to help them stay open.

“We have infused around $90 million of stipends to our existing childcare facilities," Page explained.

She continued to say they offer child care assistance programs. Parents that are seeking a job can get up to three months of child care assistance funding. 

For more information on assistance programs, click/tap the links below:

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