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Capitol Notebook: Potential boost to child care slots passes Iowa Senate
Also, state transportation officials are taking input on long-term planning
DES MOINES — A proposed solution to a shortage of child care workers and openings in Iowa was approved Monday by the Iowa Senate.
Workers at child care centers would be allowed to watch more children, potentially creating new child care slot openings, under the proposal from Senate Republicans.
Under current law, child care centers can contain up to six 2-year-olds for each worker and up to eight 3-year-olds for each worker. Senate Republicans’ proposal would increase those ratios, allowing centers to have seven 2-year-olds for each worker and 10 3-year-olds for each worker.
The change provides an option for centers to adjust their ratios; it does not require any changes.
“(The proposal) could not come a moment too soon, as workforce issues continue to challenge Iowans,” said Sen. Jeff Edler, R-State Center. “I believe in our day care providers and their making decisions around the care of children. … We are empowering them to possibly get one more parent to work because they can get one more child.”
The proposal, Senate File 2268, passed on a party-line vote with Republicans supporting and Democrats opposing.
Democrats warned changing the ratios could place additional stress on child care staff at a time when centers are already facing a shortage of workers.
“If you think for one minute that this is going to do anything to solve the workforce crisis in Iowa, you are dead wrong. It will only make things worse,” said Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque. “This is about the safety of children. Why would we ever think about compromising that? … You want to solve a workforce crisis, pay (the workers higher wages).”
Edler said the new ratios would make Iowa’s similar to those in Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri.
With its passage in the Senate, the bill is now eligible for consideration by the House, which has considered a similar proposal.
TRANSPORTATION PLANS: The Iowa Department of Transportation and Iowa Transportation Commission are seeking public input regarding two important long-range transportation plans, the State Transportation Plan and the State Freight Plan. These plans provide a framework to guide future investments in Iowa’s multimodal transportation system, with the latter focusing on Iowa’s freight modes.
The Iowa DOT will be accepting public comments on the plans through April 7. They can be viewed at www.iowadot.gov/iowainmotion. To provide comments, contact the Iowa DOT, Systems Planning Bureau, 800 Lincoln Way, Ames, IA, 50010, (515)-239-1520 or Iowa.Motion@iowadot.us.
ENERGY GRANTS: The Iowa Economic Development Authority is accepting applications for the fourth round of the Iowa Energy Center Grant Program. The grants will support energy-related economic development projects that align with the Iowa Energy Plan. Applications will be accepted through https://iowagrants.gov/index.do until March 22.
The program is funded by Iowa’s gas and electric utilities and is open to Iowa businesses, colleges, universities, and private nonprofit agencies and foundations. The program supports projects that provide a benefit to Iowa’s residential and commercial customers. Projects also must aid in the implementation of at least one of the seven key focus areas of the Iowa Energy Plan: technology-based research and development, energy workforce development, support for rural and underserved areas, biomass conversion, natural gas expansion in underserved areas, electric grid modernization and alternative fuel vehicles.
Grant awards will range from $10,000 to $1 million, however, most grants awarded will be made in the range of $150,000 to $300,000.
For additional information, contact Amber at (515)-348-6222 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.iowaeda.com/iowa-energy-office/grants/.
Gazette Des Moines Bureau