Gov. Reynolds creates task force focussed on expanding childcare availability

During her press conference Wednesday morning, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced her eighth executive order— The Governor’s Childcare Task Force. This initiative will aim to expand and improve Iowa’s childcare availability.


Hannah Kinson

Gov. Kim Reynolds listens during a conference at the GuideLink Center in Iowa City on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The new crisis center is a collaborative project between the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and community partners, and focuses on providing mental health and substance use care. It will have a soft opening on Monday.

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the creation of the Governor’s Childcare Task Force— an executive order to improve access to high quality childcare in Iowa. 

Iowa has already seen a childcare shortage Reynolds said, but due to the pandemic, the problem has only gotten worse because of financial problems putting many daycare centers out of business. She said the task force was created to combat the problem and focus on fueling Iowa’s economy. 

“This is an issue we seem to tackle every year but we have yet to come up with the solutions that not only meet the immediate needs of working parents but creates a long term sustainable system,” Reynolds said at a Wednesday press conference. 

Emily Schmitt, an Iowa mother and general counsel for Sukup Manufacturing Co. who will be leading the task force, said that Iowa has the highest number of households where both parents are in the workforce. 

Schmitt said that the task force will work to regulate safety and quality in already existing locations, and its goal is to increase childcare slots by 50 percent in the next five years

Iowa is a childcare desert, Schmitt said. With Iowa being behind on 350,000 childcare slots statewide, 3 or more children are in need of care for every one slot available. 

“I’ve seen first-hand that childcare availability directly affects our workforce,” Schmitt said. 

Reynolds said that the Iowa Department of Human Services and Iowa Workforce Development will award $13 million in Future Ready Iowa Childcare Grants to expand child care locations across the state. She said that more than 70 applications were received for the grants and through leveraging the numbers each eligible applicant will be able to receive money. 

“Access to childcare is an issue in every single corner of our state, and we need to do everything we can to resolve it so that every Iowa parent can pursue opportunities to better themselves and  their families,” Reynolds said.