A note about the author, Lauren Linnenbrink is the T.E.A.C.H. and WAGE$ Coordinator with Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children.
The Early Childhood Day on the Hill was recently held during the first week of the legislative session on Thursday, January 17th. This was an opportunity for early childhood educators, agencies, organizations, and advocates to come together to discuss early childhood education with legislators.
The theme this year for the Early Childhood Day on the Hill was “The Workforce behind the Workforce.” Did you know that in a six-month period almost half of parents are absent from work at least once due to child care issues? This means they are missing an average of 4.3 days.
To increase the voices heard at the Capitol, we invited Iowa businesses to come and share how child care, and the lack thereof, has affected their business and/or community. Not only did these businesses have a table to share and exhibit their materials, there was also a reserved room for small group breakouts. For up to thirty minutes, the business leaders were given time to share with legislators and other attendees information about their organization and how they have been impacted by the lack of child care. This was also their opportunity to share anything they’ve done to help the issue.
Lee Container in Centerville came to share how their retention rates were lower than other Lee Container businesses around the nation. They learned this was impacted by the lack of child care spots in their community. They connected with a local program and through a lot of work and collaboration; they were able to create more child care spots in their community. They had an opportunity to share their story with those who were at the Capitol that day. Other businesses around the state also were able to share their wonderful stories.
The lack of child care in Iowa is not a parent issue; it is a community issue, a business issue, and a workforce issue. Working together with Iowa businesses will help us to find the solutions we need to provide better for our state, and for our children. Thank you to the Iowa businesses who took time from their busy schedules to join us on the Hill. And, thank you to all those who attended and spoke with their legislators regarding early childhood education! We look forward to seeing what we can do during the rest of the 2019 session, and in years to come!
To learn more about the current child care landscape and its impact, read The US and the High Cost of Child Care (Child Care Aware 2018).