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What would it take to solve the Iowa child care shortage?

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called solving the child care shortage a priority in last year's Condition of the State address. What's being done to add more slots for families?

Iowa has 5,000 child care programs managing 173,000 total spaces that are licensed with Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral, according to Iowa Child Care Resource and Referral. But there are 235,000 children aged 5 or younger. It's estimated that a quarter of Iowa's population lives in a child care desert, an area where the demand for child care far exceeds the availability of providers and openings.

State Republican leaders as recently as last year passed bills aimed at improving the field but workforce attraction and retention remain a challenge.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with stakeholders working to provide or build child care infrastructure in the state.


  • Deborah VanderGaast, owner and director of Tipton Adaptive Daycare
  • Dawn Oliver Wiand, president and CEO of the Iowa Women’s Foundation
  • Angela Lensch, board member of the Lil' Wildcat Education Center
  • Patricia Russmann, director of Early Childhood Iowa Board for Pottawattamie County
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa