United Way of Central Iowa released its 2023 Advocacy Agenda at their Advocacy Forum Breakfast held on Friday, December 16 for policy makers, government officials, and members of the community.

The Advocacy Forum featured presentations on key, statewide issues impacting United Way’s 5 Elements of a Thriving Community – childcare workforce, workforce housing, and support for helpline resources 211, 988, and 911. 

Childcare Workforce
Dave Stone, United Way of Central Iowa’s Advocacy Officer, facilitated a panel discussion around the challenges impacting childcare workforce, featuring Kay Strahorn of Conmigo Early Education Center and Dawn Oliver Wiand of the Iowa Women’s Foundation. United Way advocates for efforts to increase access to affordable, quality childcare and promotes the stabilization of the childcare workforce.

“Workforce remains a critical barrier to quality, affordable childcare,” said Stone. “We are working to emphasize programs providing childcare workforce opportunities for salary supplements and furthering education, like WAGE$ and T.E.A.C.H., to help providers receive appropriate wages. Data shows the average hourly wage for a provider in Iowa is currently $10.73, which isn’t enough when considering the responsibility of their work and the influence they have on children and families in our community.”

Want to make a direct impact on childcare advocacy? Join Women United, United Way of Central Iowa’s leadership donor affinity group. Women United investments and volunteerism support all of United Way’s work and advocacy efforts in Early Childhood Success. 
Learn More and Join WOMEN UNITED

Workforce Housing
United Way of Central Iowa advocates for safe, affordable, and stable housing that is accessible across our community. The organization and its advocates in its OpportUNITY Housing Workgroup support efforts to address housing barriers and reduce cost-related burdens for families seeking homeownership. 

“We are meeting with city council members in our region to promote methods that allow housing in their community to be more attainable for those who live there,” said Joe Murphy, Iowa Business Council and Chair of United Way’s Public Policy Cabinet: “As was shared in United Way’s Community Report, 1 in 4 central Iowa households are ‘housing burdened’, meaning they’re spending at least 30 percent of their income on housing – and it’s an even higher percentage for Black households in our community. This incredible cost is impacting people we know and encounter every day: grocery store clerks, ambulance drivers, childcare providers, and the families they’re working to support.”     

Housing and food insecurity need your attention in order to change here in central Iowa. When you unite with our organization, you’re coming alongside our elected officials, nonprofit partners, fellow donors and volunteers, and people with lived experience to influence systemic change. Join an Opportunity Work Group, direct your United Way donation to Essential Needs, or join LINC, our affinity donor group impacting this area of our work.

Three-Number Helpline Support 
United Way of Central Iowa advocates for public-private investment in the statewide 211 information and resource referral service and 988 suicide prevention and crisis support line, in addition to 911 emergency response services. Anyone in Iowa can call 211 for health and human services resource referrals, including disaster recovery support. State representatives can also use 211counts.org as a tool to identify issues in which there are high call volumes in their area.

“211 continues to be a trusted resource for Iowa residents who are seeking support or facing a crisis,” said Stone. “In 2021, 211 provided more than 80,000 resource referrals to callers searching for help. In order to ensure long-term sustainability for this critical resource, 211 Iowa is working towards securing direct, annual funding to support 211 and to expand service offerings.”

211 isn’t just for times of crisis – anyone can call or connect with 211 whenever they are unsure of where to turn for help. Check out all of the resources available to be connected through this important statewide resource at 211iowa.org

United Way of Central Iowa’s 2023 Advocacy Agenda
United Way of Central Iowa’s Advocacy Agenda is set by the organization’s Public Policy Cabinet, comprised of business and community leaders who volunteer to identify and advocate for policy solutions to the priority issues listed in the agenda. The process includes ongoing conversations with the community, funded partners, stakeholders, and volunteers. 

“At United Way, we know one of the most significant ways we can improve lives in our community is by advocating for change in the laws and policies that positively impact every central Iowan’s opportunity to thrive now and in the future,” said Mary Sellers, President of United Way of Central Iowa. “From getting involved in neighborhood-level committees, to working directly with local, state, and federal policymakers, we are proud to have a hand in system-level change that has made attaining success and thriving in our community a possibility for so many.”

Visit www.unitedwaydm.org/advocate – United Way of Central Iowa’s advocacy page – to find the full 2023 Advocacy Agenda, learn more about the organization’s advocacy efforts, and sign up to receive its Advocacy Newsletter sent during the legislative session.

Topics: advocacy

Dave Stone

Written by Dave Stone

Dave Stone is the Advocacy Officer for United Way of Central Iowa.