116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Sen. Joni Ernst and Rep. Ashley Hinson are teaming up to increase the availability of federal funds for child care development.
Ernst on Thursday introduced the ACCESS Act - Affordable Child Care for Economic Strategies and Success - to provide grants to communities and public-private partnerships to increase access to child care.
The grants would be administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
'As so many Iowa parents know, our state faced a child care crisis even before the pandemic, and COVID has just made those challenges worse - especially in our most rural areas, like where I grew up and still live today,” said Ernst, a Red Oak Republican.
By investing in Iowa's child care industry, the federal government can help expand access to and development of quality child care options for Iowa's working families, she said.
As a mom who faced similar challenges, Ernst has worked with Republicans and Democrats to expand access to child care in Iowa because it's critical for families and the state's economy, a spokesman said.
Hinson plans to offer the measure in the House on Friday to increase access to quality child care in her largely rural northeast Iowa 1st District that also includes Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Waterloo.
'As we work to rebuild our economy, it is incredibly important that we prioritize expanding trustworthy child care options for working families in Iowa,” the Marion Republican said.
She noted that her predecessor, former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, introduced this legislation in the 116th Congress with Ernst.
It's not a new issue for Hinson, who worked to expand the state's child care tax credit during her four years in the Iowa House, a spokeswoman said.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Ernst said she helped secure nearly $32 million for Iowa's child care workers and providers through the Community Development Block Grant program.
During a visit to a public-private partnership child care center in Glidden in February, she announced her support for the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act to increase competitive grants to Iowa to address child care 'deserts” and help fund projects like the one she visited.
In many rural communities, Ernst said, the problem of more children than child care providers is reflected in the number of working mothers who left the workforce during the pandemic.
The ACCESS Act has attracted support from Iowans and Iowa community groups, including the Cedar Rapids Economic Alliance, Cedar Valley Growth, the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce, the Black Hawk County Child Care Coalition and Exceptional Persons Inc., according to Ernst.
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