BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – At her weekly update of all things COVID-19, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds took aim at the shortage of child care in the state.
Reynolds formed, by executive order, a Governor’s Child Care Task Force to be headed up by Sukup Mfg. general counsel Emily Schmitt.
The 18-member task force is charged with coming up with recommendations in the next 100 days to address the shortage.
Schmitt said her goal will be to reduce the state’s shortage of child care slots by 50% in the next five years.
“23% of Iowans live in a child care desert and in rural Iowa that stat goes up to 35%. One of my goals with this task force is to take an expansive view of the crisis,” Schmitt said.
“Iowa has the highest rate in the country of both parents working, but we face child care shortages in every corner of the state.”
She said data shows the state is 350,000 child care slots short of what is needed.
Child Care was one of the top recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board assembled last year to look at the state’s pandemic recovery process.
Schmitt said the state also cannot ignore the fact that 60% of the people that left work during the pandemic were women.
“Some of our action will be to study successful delivery models from other states, while also considering the regulatory environment and partnerships,” she said. “Big challenges required bold discussions.”
Reynolds said child care will be a critical part of the state’s road to recovery.
“Access to child care is an issue in every single corner of Iowa and we need to do everything we can to resolve it so every parent can do everything they can to better their families,” she said.
During the question and answer that followed, one reporter asked Reynolds if she had any comment on the Des Moines Register reporter that is currently on trial after being arrested covering a riot in north Des Moines near the Merle Hay Mall.
“I don’t have any comment on that. We’ll continue to work through the process and see where it ends up,” she said.