DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) announced a new $30 million program to recruit and retain child care workers in the state on Thursday.
The program comes after the Governor's Child Care Task Force made the recommendation in its report from November 2021 and after Gov. Kim Reynolds announced retention bonuses for teachers and law enforcement officers in her Condition of the State address on Tuesday.
According to DHS, the state has invested $480 million to support child care since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state's child care system has been challenging for parents to navigate for a while and COVID-19 has only exacerbated the problem.
DHS says current child development home operators, licensed child care center staff and newly-hired employees are eligible for the bonus. The release from DHS does not include how much money each person will get but it did say details on eligibility and the application process will be published on its website in February.
Each new hire or newly registered child development home meeting eligibility requirements will be able to acquire a sign-on bonus 90 days after they are hired. Six months after that and every six months into the future, any person meeting eligibility requirements that remains employed at the same child care facility will be able to receive a retention bonus until the funds run out.
“Professionalizing the state’s child care workforce starts with investing in providers,” said task force chair Emily Schmitt in a press release. “That’s going to encourage those employees to see there’s a viable future in the profession. Every business is struggling with labor. Supporting child care will not only enable those Iowans but ultimately help the workforce.”