Early Ed Untapped Potential Iowa


October 14, 2023


The U.S. Chamber Foundation partnered with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) and the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children on this report to better understand the unique needs of Iowa’s working parents and examine the current childcare landscape. Iowa has the highest labor force participation rate in the country and businesses, regardless of industry or location, are struggling to recruit and retain skilled workers. There is a great opportunity to bring new residents to the state and ensure that Iowa can thrive. However, childcare is often the barrier that stands between success and stagnation.

Our report estimates that Iowa loses $935 million annually as a result of childcare breakdowns.

Progress is being made in Iowa and both ABI and the U.S. Chamber Foundation are committed to supporting these positive steps forward. To do so, partnerships between early education advocates and the business community are vital to ensure that Iowa’s children, families, businesses, and economy are strong. The persistent childcare challenges will not be fixed overnight, and they won’t be fixed by just one sector, so we hope this report provides you with data to better understand the challenges and find more partners to discover the solutions.

Here are our key findings in Iowa:

  • Iowa loses $153 million annually in tax revenue due to childcare issues
  • Absences and employee turnover cost Iowa employers $781 million per year
  • 69% of parents rely on family members for at least some childcare
  • More than 1/2 of parents reported missing work due to childcare issues
  • 52% of parents who voluntarily left a job did so when their child was one year old or younger
  • 23% of parents postponed school or a training program due to childcare issues

Faces Behind the Numbers

Mindi Vanden Bosch, of the Vermeer Corporation, explains that onsite childcare is a key way for them to recruit employees to the small town of Pella, Iowa. “There are so many people when they’re looking for jobs, one of their first questions is, ‘what is your childcare option?’ As a company, it’s harder to attract talent to a smaller community.”