$36.6 million in child care grants awarded in Iowa

Sunflower among top four largest recipients

Gov. Kim Reynolds awarded nearly $37 million in child care grants to 108 projects that will create nearly 5,200 new childcare slots across Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 12.
The list of approved grants includes Decorah’s Sunflower Child Care Center, with an Investing in Iowa’s Child Care grant from the Department of Human Services (DHS) of $741,000 and a Childcare Challenge Award of $188,300 for a total award of $930,000 in 2022. Sunflower received $760,000 awarded in 2021 through the Iowa Child Care Challenge. Sunflower Child Development Center in Decorah received grants toward the new Child Development and Discovery Center, which will provide childcare for 215 children from birth to 12 years of age and include indoor active learning spaces that will be available to the public. The amount awarded to Sunflower was one of the top four largest awards in the state.
Originally launched in November at $10 million, Gov. Reynolds expanded the program to accommodate the overwhelming number of quality applications and to recognize the need for additional quality childcare slots for Iowa’s workforce. 
Working together, Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Department of Human Services has allocated $26.9 million in DHS federal funds, $3 million appropriated by the Iowa legislature for the Child Care Challenge Fund, and $6.7 million in federal ARPA funds to the top scoring applications. This program has created 5,191 slots across Iowa.
Stephanie Fromm, Executive Director for Winneshiek County Development and Tourism and Sunflower Vice President stated, “We are very thankful for this award. I think it’s important for our community and businesses to know when the State of Iowa announces these awards, people take notice and see the project as demonstrating how much we care about our children and workforce. Just the other day, when the $500,000 CAT grant was announced, Sunflower was receiving three to five calls per day from people outside of our region interested in moving to Winneshiek County.”
“Childcare has been Decorah Jobs’ number 1 priority since 2019 and this award helps us get closer to our fundraising goal and our goal to meet the needs of our workforce,” stated Harlan Satrom, President of Decorah Jobs. 
Sunflower Child Development and Discovery Center hopes to close the gap on their fundraising efforts soon. To find out more about the project or to make a donation, visit DecorahDiscovery.org and to find out more about the other Child Care Challenge awards go to FutureReadyIowa.gov.
Iowa leads the nation in the percentage of households where both parents work outside the home. However, 23 percent of Iowans (35 percent of those in rural areas) live in areas lacking an adequate supply of childcare. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Federation estimates that this childcare shortage costs the state’s economy nearly $1 billion annually in lost tax revenue, worker absence and employee turnover.

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