Ernst Meets With Iowans on Child Care, Supports Bill Expanding Access and Resources

The Iowa senator is working to provide communities in child care “deserts” support for projects like Glidden’s Lil’ Wildcat Education Center

GLIDDEN, Iowa – Continuing her push to increase access to child care for Iowa families, today U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) met with parents and local leaders of the Glidden community to hear how they came together to address the rural child care crisis in their area by creating their own child care center through a private-public partnership. The Lil’ Wildcat Education Center, which is set to launch in the 2022-2023 academic year, is the result of support from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and from private investments.
 
Ernst, who has long fought to increase access to child care in Iowa particularly during the pandemic, also announced her support for bipartisan legislation, called the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act, which will expand competitive grants to states like Iowa to address child care “deserts” and help fund projects like the one in Glidden.
 
“Iowa faced a child care crisis even before the pandemic, particularly in our rural areas, and COVID has only made this situation worse for families,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “The parents and leaders of the Glidden community have an incredible success story to tell about how they stepped up to address the child care crisis in this area. I want to make sure communities across our state, especially in our rural areas and child care ‘deserts,’ have that same opportunity, which is why I’m working across the aisle to help expand access to child care and boost support for projects like the one here in Glidden.”
 
Angela Lensch, the Board President for the Lil' Wildcat Education Center, said, “The importance of having high quality child care is a necessity for parents and families, especially in towns like Glidden, and it was a top issue that drove us to launch the Lil' Wildcat Education Center. Ultimately, society, children, families, employers, communities, and the nation as a whole benefit from high quality child care. Fostering a healthy, successful, future workforce is essential to everyone’s well-being. Only through continued support for projects like the Lil’ Wildcat Education Center and the growth of supporting governmental child care programs will we ever come close to solving these huge and critical issues.”
 
Senator Ernst sat down with parents and local leaders to learn how they are addressing Glidden’s rural child care crisis and discuss her work to increase access to child care for Iowa families.
 
Local leaders shared a preview of the Lil’ Wildcat Education Center, which is set to launch in the 2022-2023 academic year.
 
Senator Ernst and local leaders visited the future site of the Lil’ Wildcat Education Center.
 
The Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act, which was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), would provide $100 million in grants for states to increase access to licensed child care services in child care deserts. The grants would cover 50% of the cost of programs to support training for caregivers, and/or projects to build, expand, or renovate child care facilities in child care deserts.
 
Today’s stop in Carroll County was a part of Ernst’s 99 County Tour for 2021, her 14th county on the year.
 
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