From Senator Amanda Ragan –
Iowa has the highest percentage of households with children under age six who have all available parents in the labor force– 77 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. These statistics illustrate that Iowans work hard. With young kids in childcare an average of 36 hours per week, it also shows the importance of high-quality care.
The brain develops rapidly from birth to age five, building the foundation of cognitive and character skills. As many families know, good care that helps ensure a child’s success in school and life can come at a high cost.
The joint Health & Human Services Appropriations Committee, which I chair in the Senate, recently heard about changes to federal law that will help to improve Iowa’s Child Care Assistance Program. Some of those changes include improvements in training for childcare providers and changes in program eligibility requirements that no longer penalize families when they receive modest pay increases.
The Senate will be proposing additional changes that will reward childcare providers for reaching certain quality benchmarks and changing income eligibility limits so that more working families are eligible for assistance. These changes will ensure that more families with modest means can get high-quality care for their children. It also means that parents can focus on their jobs when they are at work, with the assurance that their children are in a safe, nurturing environment.
Learn more about childcare assistance in Iowa at http://dhs.iowa.gov/child-care.
Last session, the Legislature approved more property tax relief to those who have sacrificed the most for our country. We expanded the Disabled Veterans Property Tax Credit to include a full property tax exemption for those who suffered a 100 percent disability because of their service, and allowed the exemption to apply to surviving spouses and children of those killed in service to our nation.
However, the law inadvertently left out veterans who suffered a permanent disability. This week, we fixed that problem. House File 166 will allow those veterans to claim and receive the property tax exemption. This legislation is retroactive to last year, so those who met this standard and had applied will receive their benefit. Veterans must apply to their local assessor to receive an exemption. For more information, contact your local assessor by going to www.iowa-assessors.org/htdocs/Assessors_of_Iowa, or county veterans’ office by going to www.va.iowa.gov/counties.
UPCOMING PUBLIC FORUMS
- Friday, February 27, 10 a.m.: Legislative Forum at the Amvets Center, 718 9th St., Allison.
- Friday, February 27, 1 p.m.: Legislative Forum at Center One, 5 1st St. Southwest, Hampton.