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Ernst Helps Secure Nearly $32 Million for Iowa’s Child Care Providers

Ernst, a strong advocate for Iowa’s child care community, worked across the aisle to provide this critical relief and support for Iowa’s children and families.

RED OAK, Iowa – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), who has been fighting tirelessly for Iowa’s child care providers – including ensuring quality, affordable, and accessible child care for Iowa’s families and children – worked with her colleagues to secure nearly $32 million in funding for Iowa to support access to child care and child care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state will receive $31,899,093 through the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, which Ernst helped bolster in the bipartisan Phase 3 relief package.

“Even before COVID-19, Iowa was facing a child care crisis – with a quarter of Iowans living in what’s called a ‘child care desert.’ I’ve heard from child care providers across the state about the critical need for support in these challenging days, and that’s why I worked across the aisle and fought hard to include additional relief for Iowa children and families,” said Senator Ernst, member of the Senate Small Business Committee. “Our child care providers have continued to provide stability and support throughout this pandemic, and I’m grateful that through these bipartisan efforts we’ve been able to secure nearly $32 million in additional support for our ever-important child care community.”

“Without question, child care is an essential pillar of our economy on which all other industries rely. The crucial relief opportunities made available to families and child care providers through the CARES Act, including emergency CCDBG funding, are essential to ensuring child care providers can continue serving the families of America’s first responders, and be around to welcome the nation’s young children when their parents eventually return to work,” said First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “As this crisis continues to unfold, we look to bipartisan champions in Washington like Sen. Ernst for their leadership in ensuring America’s working families and child care providers – many of which are small businesses – continue receiving the assistance they need to weather this storm.”

Working with her fellow members—Democrats and Republicans – on the Small Business Committee, Ernst fought to make sure this new law gives Iowa’s child care providers access to the new Paycheck Protection Program, a 100% guaranteed Small Business Administration (SBA) loan for businesses with 500 employees or less – including child care providers and nonprofits. 

In addition to the small business loans, here are a few of the provisions Ernst supported in relief packages to support Iowa’s children, families, and child care providers: 

  • Child Care and Development Block Grant: $3.5 billion for states – like Iowa – to receive assistance for child care providers.
  • Head Start: $750 million for Head Start to help them respond to coronavirus-related needs of children and families, including making up for lost learning time.
  • Community Services: $1 billion in direct funding to local community-based organizations to provide a wide-range of social services and emergency assistance for those who need it most.
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program: $900 million for states to support immediate home energy assistance for low-income households affected by COVID-19.
  • Family Violence Prevention and Services: $45 million to provide additional support to family violence shelters, and $2 million in additional support for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
  • Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs: $25 million for additional immediate assistance to current programs providing critical services and housing for runaway and homeless youth.
  • Child Welfare Services: $45 million for states to support the child welfare needs of families during this crisis, and to help keep families together.
  • Child Nutrition Programs: In Phase 2, we bolstered the child nutrition programs, including free and reduced school breakfasts and lunches.

Background on Ernst’s work for child care:

Outside of the coronavirus relief packages, Ernst has put forward bipartisan legislation to expand access to quality affordable child care by allowing non-profit child care providers to utilize programs offered by the SBA. In addition, Ernst has also been working across the aisle to increase access to licensed child care services in child care deserts through state grants that would cover some of the cost of programs to support training for caregivers, projects to build, expand, or renovate child care facilities in child care deserts.