This past week, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. as the Outreach Leader of Central Iowa for Save the Children Action Network to attend the annual Advocacy Summit where we celebrated our accomplishments from 2018 and highlighted our focus for 2019.
While there, we listened to several inspirational speakers such as Tim Shriver, the Chairman of Special Olympics International; Cokie Roberts, a political commentator for ABC News and NPR; and Mark Shriver, the Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Action Network.
Approximately 270 people from across the country went to D.C. to discuss legislation that would address child care deserts and a resolution to protect children from attacks on education in conflict. As I met with Representative Dave Loebsack, I educated him on what child care deserts were and how in Jasper county alone we have about nine children for every one child care provider available in the area.
I introduced the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act (H.R. 1488 and S.605) that would provide competitive federal grants to states while also supporting two things. The first being improvement to the education, training, and retention of the child care workforce, where we have seen a 40% drop in Iowa alone. The second; to build, renovate, and expand child care facilities in areas with child care shortages. Rep. Loebsack acknowledged this struggle as he has seen this going on in Sioux City where he was born and raised. He discussed how his mother went through similar situations not being able to find child care for himself and his three siblings. In addition to child care deserts, we spoke on the co-sponsorship of the resolution by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) to protect education for children living in conflict.
This resolution would help hold perpetrators of attacks on schools, students, and teachers accountable for their actions; support policies and programs to return refugee girls and boys to learning as soon as possible; and monitor attacks on schools, students, and teachers to support coordinated diplomacy and programs. We appreciated him taking the time out of his busy schedule to discuss these two issues and consider co-sponsorship. He was friendly, attentive, and easy to talk to. He seemed to genuinely care about the struggles of the people in his district and all over Iowa. I look forward to meeting with him again.
Jessica L. Balk