The Iowa child care assistance program provides financial support for eligible low-income families. It helps student parents balance academic responsibilities with family life and reduces the stress of high child care costs. It is important to understand how the income guidelines apply when considering a child care subsidy. The University of Iowa offers two types of child care subsidies: one-time stipends and ongoing assistance.
Iowa Child Care Assistance Update
Iowa lawmakers have passed a bill that will make it easier for families to get child care assistance. The new law raises the income limits for the state program, which pays a portion of the cost of child care, to 160% of the federal poverty level, up from 145%. That equates to $48,000 for a family of four. The law also increases the reimbursement rates for childcare providers, which will help more families afford high-quality child care.
The bill also increases the work requirements for families to 32 hours a week. Families with children with special needs will have more flexibility in meeting the requirements. The bill was drafted in response to a state task force’s report that found many families struggled to afford quality child care. According to the report, some parents spent up to 20 percent of their income on child care in Iowa. The new law will allow families to pay child care providers a market rate, which is higher than the subsidy the state pays for the same services.
Critics say the bill will make child care more expensive for families by increasing work requirements and raising the eligibility threshold. Republicans argue that the measure will provide more flexibility for parents to arrange work schedules around their children’s needs and that increased eligibility will help increase the number of Iowans in the workforce. Democrats counter that a higher income threshold will create a “child care cliff effect” by creating an unintended disincentive for parents to advance toward jobs that pay a self-sufficient wage.
How to Apply for Iowa Child Care Assistance?
Families must meet income eligibility guidelines, which are based on the number of people in the household and the family’s income. You can use the online eligibility calculator on the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website to check if you qualify.
- Work/Training: Parents must be working, going to school at least half-time, or participating in a job training program for at least 20 hours per week.
- Child’s Age: The child must be under 13 years old and live with the parent who is applying for assistance.
You can apply for Iowa Child Care Assistance online through the Family Portal or in person at your local county HHS office. The application process is free, and you can get help from a DHS worker if you need it.
Eligible Providers for Iowa Child Care
- A licensed child care center,
- A registered child development home,
- A non-registered child care home,
- Someone who cares for your children in your own home,
- A before-and-after-school program.
- Iowa Department of Health and Human Services: Child Care Assistance Program: https://hhs.iowa.gov/programs/programs-and-services/child-care
- Iowa Child Care Resource and Referral Network: https://iowaccrr.org/
- Child Care Aware of America: https://www.childcareaware.org/