Childcare organizations push for more funding

WATERLOO – Childcare providers are struggling with low enrollment and extra costs because of the pandemic.

In the spring, capacity at Lionheart Early Learning Center was down to 20 percent. Now, it’s up to 65 percent capacity, but owner Vicki Brandenburg said that’s not as good as it sounds.

She said the pandemic is forcing many child care centers to cut staff or close completely.

“All early childhood programs are in trouble right now,” Brandenburg said. “We rely on families to pay that tuition, and when that tuition doesn’t come in, or it’s much lower than it’s been, everyone suffers.”

The Child and Family Policy Center in Des Moines is one of many organizations across the country advocating for at least $50 billion to go towards childcare in the next pandemic relief bill.

Sheila Hansen is a child policy expert at CFPC, and she said the COVID-19 relief bill, that was passed earlier this year, allowed some money for childcare, with Iowa receiving $30 million.

“That money was supposed to get them through the summer, and it has, but it’s running out,” Hansen said.

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