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Ernst Talks Child Care Access in Rural Iowa

On her 99 County Tour, Ernst met with local leaders and providers in both Jefferson and Wapello Counties to discuss her continued support of Iowa’s child care community.

OTTUMWA, Iowa—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a mom and leader on the issue of child care, participated in discussions with local leaders and providers in both Jefferson and Wapello Counties on ways she can continue to support Iowa’s child care community. Both visits were part of Ernst’s 99 County Tour for 2020.
Click HERE for downloadable photos/b-roll from Senator Ernst’s Jefferson County visit.
Click HERE for downloadable photos/b-roll from Senator Ernst’s Wapello County visit.
“As a mom, I know firsthand the importance of having access to quality, affordable child care. Unfortunately, Iowa is facing a child care crisis—one that’s been intensified during COVID-19– and that’s why in the Senate I’ve worked across the aisle on a number of measures to support our providers and working families. Being face to face with child care providers and hearing their challenges and concerns firsthand will help me as I continue to fight for Iowa’s families,” said Senator Ernst.
In Jefferson County, Ernst joined members of the Fairfield Economic Development Association (FEDA) and Early Childhood Iowa to learn more about the work they’re doing to build a new child care center in Fairfield to help address the child care crisis in the area.
"Child care is a business issue, workforce issue, and an infrastructure issue,” said Joshua Laraby, Executive Director of FEDA. “Economic development, local child care specialists, and businesses must come together to address challenges with access to child care, quality, and affordability. It's essential for retaining and growing our rural communities. The community of Fairfield, Iowa in partnership with Early Childhood Iowa has worked hard to bring measurable solutions."
Click here or on the image above for downloadable photos/b-roll from Senator Ernst’s visit to Fairfield.
In Wapello County, Ernst met with members of the Ottumwa Chamber of Commerce, as well as local stakeholders, to hear about their efforts to expand access to child care in the area, and how she can continue to help at the federal level.

“Ottumwa truly appreciated Senator Ernst listening to our concerns about childcare,” said Shea Greiner, Vice President of Engagement and Organizational Advancement for Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress. “We were able to discuss labor and funding issues, as well as children with mental health issues. The Senator was very attentive to our concours and it was nice to see her working on our behalf.”

Click here or on the image above for downloadable photos/b-roll from Senator Ernst’s visit to Ottumwa.
Last month, Senator Ernst unveiled a new proposal to provide additional assistance for child care providers in Iowa, and across the country, during COVID-19. Ernst’s bill was included in the COVID-19 relief package, the HEALS Act.
Since the onset of this pandemic, Senator Ernst has pushed to help Iowa families in several ways. She helped secure nearly $32 million for Iowa’s child care workers and providers through the CCDBG program, and has since called on the Senate to provide additional support in future COVID-19 relief legislation. As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, Ernst fought to make sure that Iowa’s child care providers could access the Paycheck Protection Program.
Outside of the COVID-19 relief packages, Ernst has introduced bipartisan legislation to allow communities and public-private partnerships to use grants through the Department of Commerce to increase access to child care. She also 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 Small Business Administration. 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 and projects to build, expand, or renovate child care facilities.