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Iowa parents now on the lookout for summer child care

Without school to keep kids engaged and occupied in the summer, taking care of them can get a lot harder.

DES MOINES, Iowa — With summer vacation in full effect, parents may be looking for someone to watch their kids while at work. Since the pandemic, parents have struggled to find child care, and some are resorting to community social media pages to find providers.  

For parents like Kristin Adams, time is not on their side as the need grows every day.

"You almost have to be like a private investigator," Adams said. "But we also do full background searches and take a driver's license and double-check that the person who is applying is the person that I'm background-checking."

Page Ryan works with the Iowa Department of Human Services. She said she sees the struggles parents are experiencing while trying to find child care. 

"We are identifying a need for child care for all families. Not just low-income families, but also those that might be working non-traditional hours," Ryan said. "Maybe someone in a smaller community, even our metro areas, do find that we lack access for infants and toddlers."

Ryan said when searching for a provider, dependability and safety are not the only obstacles for parents. IDHS provides child care cost assistance for over 20,000 families.

"The Department of Human Services has what's called child care assistance: funding for low-income families that comes through the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant or Child Care Development Fund," Ryan said.

IDPH does have some programs to help cover child care costs.

Page says there are three tiers of child care assistance. The first is for those making under 145% of the federal poverty level. The second is called CC Plus, for families above the poverty line. And the third is called CC Exit for families above 225% of the federal poverty level. 

Page encourages parents to reach out for help if they need it, and a specialist with IDPH will help them find a tier that works for them.

Adams said you need to find a provider first to be eligible, and she's been trying for weeks—unsuccessfully—to find a nanny for her child. Her advice for other parents who join her in the search is to use multiple avenues to aid you in your search.

"For anyone who is looking for summertime nannies, get on multiple different search engines, don't just rely on Facebook."

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