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Iowa’s ‘Child Care Champions’ recognized with award


In an effort to recognize those businesses and individuals in Iowa fighting to make child care more affordable and accessible, the Iowa Women’s Foundation unveiled the winners of a new award last month. The Golden Rattle Award honors those who have made strides toward combating the state’s child care crisis.

The inaugural recipients were Dan Levi of Levi Architects and Frontier Co-Op. Both were selected for being outspoken child care advocates within Iowa’s business community, according to a release. They were also commended for their willingness to collaborate with other companies, communities and nonprofits to explore and implement innovative solutions that make child care more accessible and affordable.

Levi is credited with developing and donating the architectural designs for “Child Care Center in a Box,” a project intended to fast-track the building and expansion of local child care centers. He also was recognized for his extensive volunteer work with communities across the state to ensure their child care projects are successful and sustainable.

Frontier Co-Op, headquartered in Norway, Iowa, was selected for championing work/life balance and for leading the way for other businesses across the state to invest in child care. Its employees are offered robust child care benefits ranging from subsidized child care, an on-site child care center and preschool, and summer day camps.

The recipients were unveiled Nov. 21 at Grapes & Gratitude, an annual IWF donor appreciation event held in Coralville.

In 2015, the Iowa Women’s Foundation launched a statewide tour, “She Matters: We Listen and Iowa Wins.” The purpose of the tour was to find out what barriers women face on their paths to economic self-sufficiency. Child care was noted among the most significant of the six identified barriers.

Dawn Oliver Wiand, executive director of the Iowa Women’s Foundation, said as of February 2019, there were 529,076 children ages 0-12 in Iowa but only 167,399 child care spaces available, leaving a shortfall of 361,677 spaces. Additionally, 1 in 2 children go without access to affordable, quality child care. Iowa also has lost 40% of its child care businesses over the past five years.

According to IWF’s website, the challenges surrounding child care are layered:

  • More everyday child care options are needed for working mothers and mothers who work nontraditional hours, including early morning and overnight shifts.
  • Child care needs to be more accessible to all Iowans, including those who live and work in underserved rural areas.
  • Child care should be more affordable, while still ensuring that providers earn a fair and livable wage.

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