Learn how Dr. Andy McGuire plans to address child and family policy issues in her campaign to become Iowa’s next governor.
Budgeting for Iowa’s Priorities
What is your plan to tackle tax policy issues to ensure a stable and adequate state general fund to pay for Iowa priorities, like children’s health, safety, education, economic security, and development?
First, stop tax give-aways to the wealthiest and the out-of-state corporations who are not investing in our public schools and our middle class. The Republicans latest tax plan would cost Iowans $1.7 billion in give aways over the next 6 years which is almost the equivalent of 1/5 of the annual state budget. Statehouse Republicans have starved Iowa’s public schools for the past 8 years as well. Setting SSA rates at below cost of living, Iowa’s schools have been on a starvation diet. Doing more with less has been their mantra for far too long. We simply cannot expect our K-12 and community colleges to flourish without the proper resources to allow them to grow. I will make them a priority and flip the priorities that the Reynolds Administration has placed on funding the wealthy while ignoring Iowa’s middle class.
Family Economic Security
What actions will you take to reduce multigenerational poverty and ensure that all children have access to equal opportunities to achieve success?
Children who grow up in the bottom fifth of national family income are more likely to remain in poverty as adults. Getting out of poverty doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and it’s not a “one size fits all approach.” Breaking poverty cycles takes time, persistence and relentless outreach. Moving from poverty to self-sufficiency is a non-linear. It has to occur in the context of everything going on in our lives — safe and stable housing, individual and family well-being, higher education, competitive job skills, financial capability, and a strong network of support to rely on.
- Access to high-quality, early-childhood education while helping parents.
- Increasing the minimum wage to at least $15 per hour.
- Access to affordable health care for all.
- Access to high-quality, affordable child care.
- Multi-access to GED and parenting classes; life skills, and other alternative skills classes available.
- Affordable community college.
- Address systemic racism and reverse trends in narrowing Voter ID laws; school segregation and other systemic ways communities of color are affected.
I am a scientist and a doctor. I understand data and people so know that brining in the best and most experienced minds to address this systemic issue also can bring about change. This change has to be a multi-pronged and multi-year approach requiring resources, planning and time. But, multi-generational poverty can be addressed.
Early Education and Child Care
How will you support affordable child care and access to programs, promote the importance of quality, and address child care workforce needs?
Significant gaps in quality exist among Iowa’s child-care providers. And, in some parts of Iowa, no child care exists. In addition, high-quality care needs rigorous standards around health and safety, social and emotional development and the cognitive growth. I know we need to expand health and safety monitoring surrounding existing child care, boost our quality and resource system and nurse consultant programs and develop more teacher-mentors.
- Require all providers caring for three or more children to be licensed or registered
- Require pre-service health and safety training for all providers
- Assure each child development home is inspected annually
- Better track and report health and safety outcomes for kids in care
- Expand FBI fingerprint checks to child development homes and make them portable
- Reinstate full QRS achievement incentives for participants who maintain their current level
- Create additional information and training supports for individuals providing family, friend and neighbor care
- Offer and require more comprehensive, evidence-based training for providers
- Encourage credentials for child-care workers and directors and offer clear credentialing pathways
- Expand wrap-around funding, which covers child care before and after preschool programs so eligible children have continuity of care
In addition, Iowa’s child-care assistance program’s income eligibility limit of 145 percent of poverty ($32,412 for a family of four) is one of the lowest in the country. Families whose income rises even slightly above the cutoff find themselves worse off, as they are suddenly responsible for the entire cost of child care. The resulting “cliff effect” is a barrier to enriching care for children, predictable enrollment for providers, and reliable support for parents working hard to get ahead.
Iowa’s payments to providers under child-care assistance have not kept pace with inflation and market costs, which themselves are based upon the current marginal-quality system. Like family eligibility limits, the state’s payments to child-care providers—set at the 75th percentile of the 2004 market rate plus 2 percent—are years behind. Increasingly, Iowa providers are talking openly of making the difficult decision not to enroll children on child-care assistance, because reimbursement does not cover their costs.
This will take time and resources, but in order to address multi-generational poverty, early interventions and other social needs, we need a strong, affordable, accessible and stable early childcare program that works.
Afterschool and Summer Learning
How would you ensure that all children and youth have access to high-quality before- and afterschool and summer programming?
Children in Afterschool programs show increased interest and ability in reading, develop new skills and interests and show improved school attendance increased enagement in school and have a lower drop out rate. Increasing our investment in quality before and after school programs is a win, win for both kids and schools.
While there is no one single formula for success in after school programs, both practitioners and researchers have found that effective programs combine academic, enrichment, cultural, and recreational activities to guide learning and engage children and youth in wholesome activities. They also find that the best programs develop activities to meet the particular needs of the communities they serve.
These programs are a matter of priority and focus and engaging the right stakeholders in the conversation. I am a doctor and understand that our environment deeply impacts our health and safety. I am committed to ensuring that my focus is on our youngest. Iowa’s resources are a matter of priority and the current administration has not focused on what is important.
Safety and Security
What actions will you take to reduce the number of children who are subject to abuse and neglect, and how will you ensure that youth aging out of the foster care system have a promising future?
This starts with treating our foster care system as the priority it needs to be, including ensuring full funding and access to the resources needed to build a robust system that gives foster youth the exact same opportunities as all Iowa children. That requires making sure every foster youth has a safe and nurturing home placement in which they can grow and thrive.
And then we need to ensure that we have created a climate in Iowa that offers opportunity for young people, no matter where they live. We must improve our K-12 public schools, which state Republicans have treated as an afterthought for years. We need to expand vocational education options that give students for whom college isn’t the best path all the tools they need to immediately embark on a career in a trade that will provide a good-paying job. And it’s vital that we expand our mental health treatment options, including funding mental health and substance abuse coordinators in our school districts and better training educators to respond to the signs of mental illness and get kids the help they need.
We can fund these increases by getting rid of the tax giveaways the Reynolds-Branstad administration has consistently pushed for large out of state corporations that offer no benefit to Iowans. These giveaways are forecast to total over $400 million in 2018.
How will you address the issue of human trafficking and ensure the broad-based training needed to educate all Iowans that serve, teach, protect, respond or utilize our natural resources?
Ending human trafficking in Iowa requires a comprehensive approach in which we bring all stakeholders to the table together to build a plan that attacks all facets of existing trafficking networks. My top priority in office will be listening to both the experts and everyday Iowans that have the best ideas on how to improve our state. So we need to start by assembling a task force that involves our law enforcement, non-profit community, public health and public school systems, the foster care community, and the voice of ordinary Iowans to examine and determine the most effective strategies for combatting this crisis.
That must include education and awareness campaigns that arm the public employees who must be on the front lines of any campaign against trafficking with the tools they need to recognize its signs and take the proper actions so that authorities can step in and save lives. If our law enforcement, teachers, public health workers, or even ordinary citizens don’t know human trafficking when they see it or don’t know how to get victims help immediately, that greatly reduces the odds that action can be taken. From that point onward, we must ensure established and effective procedures are in place to get victims help from the moment suspected trafficking is reported, ranging from law enforcement action to non-profits and social workers stepping in to care for victims to making sure they have opportunities to rebuild their lives and move on with support from our education and public health communities.
This questionnaire was developed by the Children’s Policy Coalition and shared with all gubernatorial campaigns. Candidates were given the option to respond to these questions through an in-person meeting, submitting written responses, or both. All responses are printed without editing.