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Ernst, Grassley Hold Childcare Roundtable, Announce Legislation to Address Critical Shortage of Childcare in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a senior member of the Senate Small Business Committee, and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today hosted a childcare roundtable with Iowa business leaders to discuss the critical need for childcare in communities across the state. During the roundtable, Senators Ernst and Grassley highlighted their new bipartisan legislation to expand access to childcare for small businesses and their employees. The bipartisan legislation is also cosponsored by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and Tim Scott (R-SC).

According to a report by the Des Moines Register, the number of childcare facilities in Iowa has decreased, while costs of care have increased. There are roughly three children per every one childcare slot in Iowa. In an effort to address this issue, Senators Ernst and Grassley introduced the bipartisan Childcare DESERTS Act, which would allow small businesses to provide childcare services to their employees by utilizing capital access loan programs through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

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Click here or the images above for photos from the roundtable.

“As we heard from Iowa business owners today, the lack of affordable, quality childcare has created major barriers for our families, communities, and small businesses,” said Ernst. “The Childcare DESERTS Act will empower small businesses to provide their employees with access to childcare – supporting Iowa families while boosting our local economies.”

“During my 99 county meetings, I’ve heard from many Iowans who have struggled to find quality and affordable childcare. It has become even more difficult due to the workforce shortage. Additionally, with inflation hovering around a 40-year high, the last thing Iowa families should have to worry about is being able to afford care for their children. I’ll continue working on policies to support families and remove barriers to care,” Grassley said.

The bill is supported by the Iowa Bankers Association, the First Five Years Fund (FFYF), and the Early Care and Education Consortium.

“The Iowa Bankers Association applauds Senator Ernst’s effort to address the critical need for childcare in Iowa communities,” said John Sorensen, President & CEO of the Iowa Bankers Association. “Iowa’s banks welcome the opportunity to partner with SBA should this legislation be enacted.”

“Small business owners know how critical childcare is to running a successful business, but many often face barriers that prevent them from establishing or expanding care to support their employees with young children,” said Sarah Rittling, Executive Director of FFYF. “At a time when childcare is too often in short supply across the country – and the cost of quality care is out of reach for too many working families – we must pursue innovative solutions to address these challenges. That is why we are so grateful to Senator Ernst for introducing the Childcare DESERTS Act, a commonsense proposal that would expand access to high-quality, affordable childcare for families by allowing small businesses to use SBA loans to provide childcare services to their employees. FFYF is pleased to endorse this bill and we look forward to continuing our work with lawmakers to support families and America’s youngest learners.”

“Small businesses owners continue to face barriers to retaining a qualified workforce. While many factors play a role, access to affordable, high-quality childcare is a major contributor to the workforce shortage. Small business owners need policies that will help more working parents afford childcare. Sen. Ernst’s bill takes a step in this direction by providing access to capital for small businesses that want to help provide childcare for their workforce. This, combined with existing incentives, such as Sec. 45F of the tax code and the Child and Development Care Tax Credits (CDCTC), will help small businesses and families access care,” said the Early Care and Education Consortium.