QUALITY CHILD CARE
Too many Iowa families are struggling to find reliable, affordable child care. The average monthly cost of infant care in Iowa ranged from $859 to $1,315 across the state’s 99 counties. A family of four, including an infant and a toddler — would need $1,031 for child care expenses, according to the United Way’s household survival budget. To put that in perspective, that’s typically more than housing for a family of 4 in Iowa.
Hardworking families need access to affordable, high-quality child care. Decades of research show that child development during the first few years of life is critical to their long-term success and happiness.
Total Child Care Spaces in Iowa
|Child Care Spaces||178,885||167,817|
Cost of Child Care
|% Increase in Five Years||Cost / Week|
|In-Home Child Care||14||$136.91|
When child care is available, it is often too expensive. Too many families are forced to choose between the cheapest child care available – putting their children at risk – and leaving the workforce altogether. Families in poverty are especially hard-hit by child care costs, when they can afford them at all, spending nearly a quarter of their income on it. This problem is also amplified for families in rural areas where child care is even more inaccessible.
Child care reform means more income and security for working parents
Investing more in child care policy will lead to more options and economic security for working parents. Expanding child care nationally could lead to 2.3 million new jobs between reducing under-employment among working parents, and creating new jobs in child care and early education. This type of broad reform could lift 1 million or more families out of poverty from increased earnings and reduced child care costs. This is in addition to the benefits to children from greater investment in their early development and education.
It’s time for reform in Iowa
Hardworking families are stuck. They don’t have affordable, quality options for child care. Families are forced to rely on relatives or informal child care options that don’t give them the flexibility they need to keep working. The financial and emotional costs of maintaining child care without a reliable and affordable network of providers is putting unconscionable stress on many families already living paycheck-to-paycheck.
It’s time for Iowa to support hardworking families by providing affordable, quality child care options for everyone and increasing child care spaces.
Analysis of CCAA and U.S. Census Bureau data, Economic Policy Institute (2014).
Rethinking U.S. Child Care Policy, Issues in Science and Technology, David Blau (2002).
Together, we can build a healthier, more affordable Iowa.