Childcare a focus of recent bills passed by Iowa House

There are two bills that passed the House of Representatives.
Posted at 5:43 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 18:43:39-04

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Ia. (KMTV) - There are two bills that recently passed the Iowa House of Representatives. One provides up to $3 million a year for tax credits for businesses to build or rehabilitate a child care center. The second gives tax breaks to industries or businesses that build an on-site child care center.

As the Legislature tackles the issue, Deb Martens with Child Care Resource & Referral calls the child care crisis "complicated" and multi-pronged."

"Parents cannot afford to pay what it fully costs to fund a high-quality child care program, whether it's in the home or in a child care center or preschool," Martens said.

She says finding well-trained staff is a challenge in itself because of low pay and often zero benefits. When they get educated, they move off to programs that pay a better wage.

"They might get their associates or their bachelors and then they go work for the local department of eds or maybe in childcare resource and referral. We've been known to attract a few as well," Martens said.

Martens admits legislators have to tackle the crisis in smaller increments so the budget can be sustained. State Rep. Brent Siegrist believes the state is going in the right direction.

"I think these are pretty focused and so I'm hopeful that by the time the Legislature goes home, most if not all of these bills have passed and go to the Governor's desk for her signature," Siegrist said.

Still, Martens and Siegrist expect this to be a recurring issue.

"Maybe we're creating our next genius that can help us solve our other issues that we have. We want to keep the Midwest a wonderful place to live, so we need to support those children," Martens said.

The two bills have moved to the Iowa Senate along with a series of other bills the House passed. This includes raising the child care tax credit for parents and raising the provider rates for people that provide child care.