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Mary Janssen Named to Child Care Task Force

posted on Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Previously shared blog by Child Care Resource & Referral of Northeast Iowa.

On March 10, Governor Reynolds signed Executive Order 8 launching a new Child Care Task Force to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the child care shortage and barrier to work in Iowa. We are excited to announce that Mary Janssen, Regional Director of Child Care Resource & Referral of Northeast Iowa, has been named to this task force.

When asked about being named to the task force, Mary said, "I am excited and honored to represent the child care community and develop long-term child care solutions!"

The Department of Human Services and Iowa Workforce Development worked together to strategically award $12,052,958 from the DHS Investing in Iowa’s Child Care funding program and $1,000,414 in Child Care Challenge grants to all eligible applicants throughout the state. Child Care Challenge grants support community projects to establish local childcare facilities, while the DHS funding provides support for equipment, personnel, training, and supplies for new or ongoing child care facilities.

“When we remove the obstacles to high-quality, affordable child care, our families can nurture their kids while maintaining maximum freedom to enter and remain in the workforce,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Today’s announcement will further our efforts to provide high-quality, affordable access to child care in every corner of the state.”   

“This is a big day for workforce development in Iowa because of the significant investment we are making in expanding child care availability through our investments in 64 different projects around the state, ” said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development. 

To capitalize on this investment, and in furtherance of the recommendation of the Governor's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, Governor Reynolds announced an executive order to establish a new Child Care Task Force, led by Emily Schmitt with Sukup Manufacturing. In 100 days, the task force will present recommendations to the Governor to address Iowa's child care crisis.

The central purpose of the task force is to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the numerous issues that contribute to the child care barrier to work in Iowa. The strategy will serve as a foundation for potential action by the Governor, legislature, communities and employers to reduce both short- and long-term barriers. The task force will utilize the following four working groups to facilitate detailed discussion and leverage the expertise and experience of additional interested stakeholders and community members beyond the named members of the task force:

  • Regulatory Barriers & Financing Options – Will address child care regulations that pose barriers to increased child care slots in Iowa and lack of available financing options for the creation and infrastructure of daycare facilities.
  • Expanding Eligibility for Child Care Assistance (CCA) – Will address the so-called “child care cliff” effect, or the gap that occurs when families lose child care assistance at a disproportionate rate due to a slight increase in wages.
  • Child Care Workforce Issues – Will address child care workforce issues, including recruitment and retention, reimbursement rates and health insurance.
  • Increasing Employer Investment and Engagement Opportunities in Child Care – Will address how to develop employer investment and engagement opportunities internally and within their communities.

Members of the task force representing business, non-profit and community organizations, child care providers and local government include: 

Mary Janssen, Childcare Resource and Referral of Northeast Iowa
Jennifer Banta, Iowa City Area Business Partnership 
Lisa Gates, Friendship Village 
Miranda Niemi, Quality Beginnings 
David Arens, Wells Fargo 
Pastor Philip Herman, Highland Park Community Development Association
Dawn Oliver Wiand, Iowa Women’s Foundation 
Dianna Williams, Ann Wickman Childcare Center YMCA 
Erika Fuentes, Crittenton Center 
Teree Caldwell-Johnson, Oakridge Neighborhood 
Mayor Roy Buol, Dubuque   
Mayor Gene Newgaard, Iowa Falls 
Josh Laraby, Fairfield Economic Development Association 
Jenna Ramsey, Stanton Community Development 
Amy Bice, Child Development Home Provider, Cherokee 
Raven Walker, Child Development Home Provider, Council Bluffs 
Tessa Dinsdale, Lincoln Savings Bank