Legislators visit Cedar Valley schools, day cares
Dec 11, 2012 (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The elections are over, but legislators' work is just starting to ramp up ahead of the 2013 session.
On Monday, State Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo, and Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic, D-Waterloo, toured four child care and preschool facilities in Cedar Falls and Waterloo as they worked to get first-hand contact with those who have issues that face the state.
Mary Janssen, director of children and family services for the Iowa Child Care Resource and Referral, said she invited the legislators in to give them a better picture of what is offered for young families.
"We want to give them a visual of child care and show them our work and what we're doing," Janssen said, noting that it can help aid their outreach efforts in Des Moines during the legislative session.
"It's my opinion that given the demand for families to have quality child care -- and it's across the entire spectrum of poor to rich -- if you have a young family this is a significant expense to you even if you're well off, so this has universal appeal. I would like to see an increased investment in Iowa kids through the voluntary preschool," Danielson said.
Terry Branstad came into the governor's office two years ago wanting to end the state-funded preschool program, but allowed that a needs-based program could be adopted. While the current program survived, it did endure some spending cuts.
In addition to the state early childhood program, Danielson wants to see the state provide funding for food bank programs. The legislature passed a bill last year to provide $500,000 in state support for food banks, but the bill was vetoed by Branstad. At each stop Monday, Danielson asked about food programs for the young children and expressed concerns about cuts in federal funding for those programs. He said the food bank bill could provide some help for them as well.
Janssen would like to see the state help spread the word about safe practices in regard to prevention of sudden infant death syndrome. Danielson introduced a "safe sleep" bill last year that would help provide education about best practices in child care and preschool programs to reduce the risk of sudden infant deaths.
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