DES MOINES, Iowa — In the Condition of the State address, Gov. Kim Reynolds said she's making child care a priority this year, but some providers worry her proposals won't fix the biggest issues.
The proposals fall into two major categories. The first is expanding the "Child Care Challenge" to open up more spaces at child care centers. The second is increasing the number of children providers can care for at once.
Through the Child Care Challenge, Reynolds is looking to award nearly $37 million in grants to caregivers. The goal is to open up 5,000 additional child care spots across the state, using the grants to fund the expansions.
"These are more than just buildings," Reynolds said. "They're physical reminders of the thousands of lives that will be enriched. And it’s not just the children—it’s also the lives of parents empowered to go to work knowing their child is cared for."
On the other side is a proposal that would increase the number of kids a single provider can have at once. Currently, one provider can care for six 2-year-olds or eight 3-year-olds at a time. Reynolds wants to boost those numbers to eight and 10, respectively. But some caregivers aren't on board.
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"The smaller the groups are, the more a child can learn and develop those skills that they need. Social, emotional, especially self regulation, establishing bonds with their peers," said Johanna Campbell, a teacher at Grace Preschool.
One other source of frustration—Campbell is worried about burnout from providers impacting the quality of care they're able to give.
"You're going to eventually diminish that field and overload them, and they're just going to—the children are going to be suffering the most," she said.
A bill to increase the number of kids providers can care is currently being worked on in the Iowa House of Representatives.
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