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Ernst Works to Tackle the Child Care Crisis in Iowa

The Iowa Senator is putting forward a bipartisan measure to increase access to child care

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a mother and a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, put forward a bipartisan bill focused on improving access to child care in Iowa, and across the country. In the past five years, Iowa has lost more than 40% of its regulated child care providers—leaving a quarter of Iowans living in areas with child care shortages, called ‘child care deserts.’ Ernst’s bipartisan measure allows non-profit child care providers to utilize capital access programs offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“Over the past five years, Iowa has lost more than forty percent of our regulated child care providers, making it difficult for working parents, especially in our rural communities, to find quality and affordable care for their children. We’ve got to find solutions to our state’s child care crisis,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “My bipartisan bill uses existing programs through the Small Business Administration to help child care providers better serve their communities across Iowa, and to give our working parents greater access to quality and affordable care for their children.”

The Small Business Child Care Investment Act is supported by the United Ways of Iowa, the Iowa Women’s Foundation, Save the Children Action Network in Iowa, Child and Family Policy Center in Iowa,  First Five Years Fund, and Child Care Aware of America.

Deann Cook, Executive Director, the United Ways of Iowa: “The legislation proposed by Senators Ernst and Rosen is an important first step in addressing the complex issues related to childcare. Accessible and affordable childcare is critical to families in Iowa who are struggling to reach financial stability. We look forward to continued partnership with Senator Ernst as United Ways across Iowa work to serve these families.”

Iowa Women’s Foundation: “The Iowa Women’s Foundation proudly supports the bipartisan Small Business Child Care Investment Act being introduced in the US Senate by Senators Joni Ernst (R) and Jacky Rosen (D). This bill will expand access to quality affordable child care by allowing non-profit child care providers to utilize programs offered by the Small Business Administration.  This bill will help meet a critical need for affordable quality child care in Iowa communities across the state, a major focus of the Iowa Women’s Foundation.  We applaud the bipartisan work of Senators Ernst and Rosen in addressing this critical need in our state.”

Sarah Rittling, Executive Director of First Five Years Fund (FFYF): “Non-profit child care providers offer a critical service to families across the country, but many often face barriers that prevent them from establishing or expanding care that has proven to have a positive impact on a young child’s development and future success in and out of the classroom. It is important, now more than ever, that we find innovative solutions that ensure these programs are available to all families. We are pleased to see Senator Rosen and Senator Ernst working together on a bipartisan proposal that would expand access to affordable, quality child care across the country by allowing non-profit providers to access the same financial resources available to for-profit providers.”

Ami Gadhia, Chief of Policy, Research, & Programs at Child Care Aware® of America: “Across the country, child care providers are struggling to find the financial resources to improve or maintain the quality of their programs, resulting in an undersupply of high-quality child care for working families. Making SBA funds available to child care providers will help these hard working, under-compensated and unrecognized providers do what they do best: provide high-quality care to America’s children. Child Care Aware of America applauds Senators Rosen and Ernst for introducing the Small Business Child Care Investment Act and finding a new way to support nonprofit child care providers in maintaining high-quality child care.”


The Small Business Administration (SBA) currently offers multiple programs to help small businesses access capital, including the 7(a) program and the 504/Certified Development Company program. Through these initiatives, the SBA provides loan guarantees for small businesses that cannot acquire credit elsewhere. Currently, for-profit child care centers are eligible for these programs.

The Small Business Child Care Investment Act, put forward by Senators Ernst and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), would make non-profit child care providers eligible for all SBA capital access programs so long as they are licensed by the state and their employees have had criminal background checks.