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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
After hearing concerns from child care providers, Iowa lawmakers still plan to loosen staffing ratios, but not quite as much as originally proposed.
A proposal to increase the number of 2-year-olds that one care center staff member could watch from six to eight received pushback from providers worried about safety and staff burnout.
So a House Human Resources subcommittee is amending House Study Bill 511 to changing the staffing standard to one-to-seven, which Department of Human Services personnel say brings Iowa into alignment with several states.
Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, who chairs the Human Resources Committee and the subcommittee on HSB 511, said the panel has decided to go with the department’s original recommendation of one-to-seven staff to child ratio. The bill also calls for changing the minimum staffing ratio for 3-year-olds from one-to-eight to one-to-10. The proposal from Gov. Kim Reynolds’ child care task force is one strategy for increasing child care availability in Iowa.
“The 2-year-olds is the age range that we heard the most concerns about,” Janee Harvey, Adult, Children and Family Services division administrator, told the Human Resources Committee Wednesday. “I understand why. They're toileting. They bite. I guess I could just say that they're 2.”
Not all 2-year-olds have the same “intensity” of need, Harvey said. A child care provider who has more 2-year-olds nearing 3 may feel comfortable with a one-to-seven ratio, she said. “Or maybe they have a bunch of 2-year-olds who just turned 2, and they're like, ‘You know, we're better off doing six.’”
Harvey reminded legislators the proposed legislation increases what is permissible, but doesn’t require child care providers to change their staffing ratios.
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