Child Care as a Key Workforce Issue

February 12, 2021 | Employers innovate to tackle Iowa's child care challenges JD Davis, Vice President, Public Policy, ABI,

ABI members, through our public policy development process, have for many years prioritized solutions to make child care more available and more affordable. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Iowa’s unemployment rate was low and the lack of affordable child care was identified as a barrier to folks joining the workforce. After initially high unemployment rates as Iowa dealt with the coronavirus, the state has now returned to a relatively low unemployment rate. But many people have simply left the Iowa workforce and they are not reflected in the new, lower unemployment numbers. Dealing with the pandemic at the family level has meant many have chosen to leave the workforce to look after their children safely at home. Others remain home to guide their children’s education. To aid in economic recovery by welcoming folks back into the workforce, affordable, available child care is a front-burner issue.

Policymakers have responded and the 2021 legislative session will serve to form final child care initiatives that address affordability and availability. The governor has recommended earmarking $25 million to create child care start-ups in underserved areas and place $3 million in the Child Care Challenge Fund. Both recommendations will make child care more available. The governor has also recommended doubling the maximum allowed income for families to qualify for tax credits targeted at making child care more affordable. Legislators introduced six initiatives addressing child care affordability and availability in the first week of the Iowa legislative session alone.

Your ABI public policy team will weigh in as necessary to ensure good policy that works for businesses emerges from the 2021 deliberations. ABI members are encouraged to stay informed on the progress of child care issues and all other legislation that affects business by participating in ABI’s legislative updates that occur every other Friday during legislative session. You can sign up by visiting the ABI Events webpage at As always, you can reach your ABI public policy team at any time by using the email in my byline.