Good child care is essential to helping parents stay in the workforce, according to state legislators who spoke at an Eggs and Issues forum Saturday morning in Fort Dodge.
”If we don’t have people to take care of our kids, parents can’t go to work,” said state Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge.
”It is a workforce issue,” added state Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge.
Kraayenbrink added that a bill that could have potentially hurt the efforts to create a municipal broadband utility in Fort Dodge is headed for the legislative scrap heap.
State Rep. Mike Sexton, R-Rockwell City, addressed work on the roughly $8 billion budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. He said he expects education will get about $103 million in new money in that budget.
Those three state lawmakers, joined by U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, spoke at a forum in the Bioscience and Health Sciences Building at Iowa Central Community College. About 40 people attended.
Eggs and Issues is sponsored by the college and the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.
Just days after Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg were in Fort Dodge for a meeting on child care, the subject emerged as the subject of discussion at Eggs and Issues.
Meyer predicted that legislation to improve access to child care will pass during this legislative session.
She said she is a member of a legislative task force assembled to address the issue.
Meyer said one aspect she specifically wants to address is what’s been called the ”cliff effect.” She said it occurs when a parent who receives assistance to pay for child care gets a raise and suddenly loses all of that help.
”They will reach a certain point in their wages and they can’t take any more because they will lose all of their child care benefits,” she said.
Meyer said she’s working on legislation that would gradually reduce the child care assistance as the parents’ wages go up so that all the assistance is not lost at once. She described at as ”incrementally stair-stepping.”
She has already introduced a bill that would increase rates paid to child care providers under the state child care assistance program. Introduced last week, the bill awaits committee action.