United Way of Central Iowa released its 2024 Advocacy Agenda at their Advocacy Update Breakfast held on Thursday, December 14 for policy makers, government officials, and members of the community.
The Advocacy Update featured presentations on key, statewide issues impacting United Way’s 5 Elements of a Thriving Community – specifically childcare workforce; safe, healthy, and affordable housing; and food security.
United Way of Central Iowa Advocacy Officer Dave Stone facilitated a panel discussion focusing on the challenges impacting central Iowa’s childcare workforce. United Way advocates for efforts to build innovative programs and investments to address childcare workforce shortages and support quality, affordable childcare for all.
“Instability in the childcare workforce remains a key barrier to ensuring that we have availability of quality, affordable childcare,” said Stone. “We are working to amplify solutions such as providing state income tax exemptions for childcare providers, extending pilot programs to allow providers access to the state’s Child Care Assistance (CCA) program, and examining property tax valuations for childcare centers to reduce overhead.”
Safe, Healthy, and Affordable Housing
United Way of Central Iowa, through its OpportUNITY Housing Workgroup, supports 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, nearly 8,000 central Iowa households are behind in rent. This incredible cost is impacting people we know and encounter every day: grocery store clerks, ambulance drivers, direct healthcare workers, childcare providers, and the families they’re working to support.”
United Way of Central Iowa advocates for and supports direct appropriations for the overall food security system and the Double Up Food Bucks program from the Healthiest State Initiative, which allows Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants better access to healthy, nutritious fruits and vegetables.
“Healthy, nutritious foods are expensive for a family supported by SNAP,” said Stone. “The Double Up Food Bucks program helps match participants’ purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables with privately funded support, allowing SNAP participants to ‘double up’ their purchases of nutritious options. We consider this solution a win for all involved – families are allowed to stretch food dollars on healthy food items, our economy will benefit from Double Up Food Bucks only being spent in Iowa-owned grocery stores and markets, and Iowa produce farmers will receive direct benefits from an increase in demand and new customers.”
United Way of Central Iowa’s 2024 Advocacy Agenda
United Way of Central Iowa’s Advocacy Agenda is informed by community partners working collectively to address critical community issues and is ultimately 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.
“At United Way, we know one of the most significant ways we can improve lives in our community is by advocating for change and policies that positively impact every central Iowan’s opportunity to thrive,” said Mary Sellers, President of United Way of Central Iowa. “From getting involved at the local level, to working directly with state and federal policymakers to make an impact, we are proud to support, and often take the lead on systems-level change that has made attaining success and thriving in our community a possibility for so many.”
Visit unitedwaydm.org/advocate to find the full 2024 Advocacy Agenda, learn more about the organization’s advocacy efforts, and sign up to receive its Advocacy Newsletter sent during the legislative session.