DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) — A new fiscal year started on Friday, with state departments dealing with new budgets. There are also several new laws that are officially in place as of July 1.
There are big changes to the state’s unemployment system. The amount of weeks one is able to claim an unemployment check was reduced from 26 to 16 weeks. A part of the bill states only a percentage of the unemployment check will go to the claimant if they have had a job offer.
The goal of the legislation was aimed at getting people back into the workforce to help with the state’s labor issues. Lobbyists against the bill say this will force people into jobs they don’t want.
“We really need to look at what are our workforce needs, where do we need the people, how do we get them there the best,” said Julie Fugenschuh, the executive director of Project Iowa. “So I think training has got to be a key piece of it. Direct care workers are very much needed, daycare workers are also needed.”
Fugenschuh believes that training people for specific industries, regardless of them being paid or not, will have a better impact on the labor shortage rather than lowering the weeks.
The child care industry is low on labor in Iowa and the amount of parents working full time in the state that need child care is massive.
“You know the best thing about Iowa and nationwide is that there is bipartisan support to improve the childcare crisis and the child care crisis isn’t just an Iowa crisis,” said Jillian Herink, the executive director of the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children. “But we happen to have one of the lowest unemployment rates and we happen to have one of the highest percentages of working parents. So we actually need more child care than any other state in the nation.”
A new law for child care is effective on July 1 as well. This would allow 16-year-olds to work unsupervised in child care facilities and expands the ratio of children aged two to three that one provider is able to care for. These changes are optional for child care facilities.
“So you hear often that this is optional, this is an optional change for classrooms every day and parents are coming in without child care,” said Herink. “And so that child care center might say ‘well now it is allowable so just for today I am going to do that,’ and then they get used to it. It really foregoes the health and safety of children.”
Iowa YMCAs lobbied for the changes to child care, because they need the ability to hire and expand classrooms in facilities based on the facilities specific needs. Iowa YMCAs need help for after school programs and summer programs.