Governor Kim Reynolds answered the Coalition’s important questions on child and family policy in Iowa. Read about her approach to these issues in her campaign to continue as Iowa’s 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?
- Children’s health. This year, I signed a first of its kind executive order to create a children’s mental health care system. We are also fighting to lower the costs of healthcare to help families in every corner of Iowa.
- Safety. As a parent, as a grandparent, and a mother to a schoolteacher, I want to be confident in our school’s ability to keep students and teachers safe. When our students feel safe, they will be able to learn. We passed a bill that requires all Iowa schools to have a high quality school safety plan.
- Education. I have not only held K-12 education funding harmless while other departments saw budget cuts, $765 million in K-12 education over the last 8 years, and only 3 other states in the country have increased K-12 spending more than Iowa in recent years. But we cannot fall into the trap of only looking at dollar amounts. That’s why we are proud of the Teacher Leadership and Compensation System. As a parent to an educator, as a grandparent to 9 grandchildren, schools being both safe and effective is my top priority.
- Economic security. We want young Iowans to find the economic security that comes with a good-paying job. That’s why we launched Future Ready Iowa, a workforce opportunity initiative that helps Iowans find the skills they need for a career that they love right here in Iowa.
- Development. This year, I signed legislation into law that ends the practice of lunch shaming by prohibiting schools from publicly listing students who owe money for a school lunch, and also setting up means for outside resources to be used. No student shouldn’t be distracted from learning because of their financial situation.
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?
I am a product of rural Iowa, and I know just how important it is to leave no Iowa community behind. I see education as a great equalizer of opportunity, which is why as Lt. Governor and now as governor Iowa has become a national leader when it comes to STEM education – science, technology, engineering, and math. We want to make sure we are preparing our kids for jobs in the future and want to make sure they can compete. I am also proud of the work being done by Future Ready Iowa, through public-private partnerships, investments in education, lower taxes, and less regulations, because we are fostering an economy that allows every Iowan the opportunity to succeed.
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?
I know how tough it is to make ends meet, while also raising a family. My husband and I lived it for many years of our life. That’s why I support programs that help Iowa’s parents who need childcare assistance, receive it. In SFY17, the state invested an additional $8 million in state funds for child care and in the 2018 HHS appropriations bill includes an additional $5 million to increase the reimbursement rate for child care providers.
Afterschool and Summer Learning
How would you ensure that all children and youth have access to high-quality before- and afterschool and summer programming?
- We will continue to focus on child care. As well as ensuring we are providing opportunities through Future Ready Iowa.
- Read more about Future ready Iowa here: https://www.futurereadyiowa.gov/
Health and Well-Being
What actions will you take to ensure access to services to address the developmental, emotional, and mental health needs of infants, children and young adults?
This year, I signed a first of its kind executive order (EO2) to create a children’s mental health care system to initially, develop and recommend specific the steps necessary to build an integrated, well-coordinated, and sustainable children’s mental health system. And long-term, the Board will serve as the state-board providing oversight and technical assistance to the entire system. EO2 establishes a statewide children’s mental health board charged with:
- Analyze and identify target populations to be served by the Children’s System;
- Analyze and identify services to be delivered locally to target populations to be served by the Children’s System;
- Analyze and design a long-term sustainable funding structure for the Children’s System;
- Establish, as necessary or appropriate, any local area boards, commissions, or entities and such local area boards, commissions, or entities’ membership components and governance expectations in order to further the purposes and goals of the Children’s System, taking into consideration geographical factors, existing structures, services, or organizations, the Mental Health and Disability Commission, and judicial district lines;
- Analyze and identify any legislative, regulatory, and policy ideas that are
designed to improve children’s mental health in the State;
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?
- Reducing number of children subject to abuse and neglect:Where allegations are less serious, connect families with community care services.
- Focus on early intervention and prevention services to strengthen families by building on the family’s resources and developing supports in the community.
- Brought in third party reviewer, The Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, to evaluate Iowa’s child welfare system and make necessary policy changes to ensure cases are adequately assessed and investigated. For context, the following are a few examples:Broadening the scope of what investigators are looking for in an
investigation (call comes in re: malnourishment; rather than just looking in the cupboards for food, train social workers to recognize other signs of abuse)
- Treating repeat calls (multiples calls re: same child/family) as separate, but connected, cases to indicate a larger issue.
- Hired a director with years of experience in advocating for children impacted by the child welfare system.
- Team is reviewing mandatory reporter training to ensure the reporters are trained to understand and identify the signs of abuse.
- Kids aging out:Focus first on finding permanency/permanent adoptive families as quickly as possible.
- Provide supports to prepare children in foster care for independence through teaching life skills, budgeting, how to pay bills, etc.:Preparation for adult living (PAL): contracted provider teaches life skills, etc. to children, regardless of where they reside
- Supervised apartment living (SAL): children in the foster system have an opportunity to gain independence through supervised apartment living – first through cluster homes with 24/hour staff and later by living alone in an apartment
- Aftercare network keeps kids in touch with their peers, provides continued access to providers, etc.
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?
Governor Reynolds and her team are working to address the issue of human trafficking. Under her leadership, Iowa’s Network Against Human Trafficking has partnered with Nebraska’s Coalition on Human Trafficking to launch the Iowa Hotel/Motel Training Project.The governor is honorary member of the NAHT’s Board of Directors, which is designed to end human trafficking through raising awareness, promoting education, advocating for effective prevention, intervention, rescue, and recovery services and effective legislation and public policy. To end human trafficking in Iowa in all of its forms. Governor Reynolds is also a supporter of Marsy’s Law, which would ensure crime victims and their families are provided the same constitutional rights as the accused. Iowa is one of only 15 states that does not currently constitutionally protect victims’ rights.
Recently, the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery presented Governor Reynolds with the Outstanding Anti-Trafficking Service award. The award recognizes Governor Reynolds’ commitment to fight trafficking cases in Iowa.