More Iowa families will be eligible for childcare assistance under a new law signed yesterday (Thursday, May 18) by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

The new law increases the income limits for the state assistance program. The Des Moines Register reports that the child's parent or guardian must also work or be in an approved educational or training program for 32 hours a week to qualify. That is four more hours than was previously required. Governor Reynolds said that the new law will "help expand access to high-quality child care." Democrats objected to the increase in hours, but supported the legislation which passed with near unanimous support, according to the Register.

The Register reports that the new eligibility requirements will increase monthly enrollment in the program by nearly 2,700 children. Currently, an average of 17,680 children receive childcare assistance. Iowa's childcare centers will also get a larger stipend for accepting these children. The law increases the reimbursement rate from 65% to 80% of the market rate.

So what families will qualify for the new assistance in Iowa? The Register reports that families with an income level of 160% of the federal poverty level or less will be eligible for childcare assistance payments from the state. For an Iowa family of three, the limit would be $39,776. For a family of four, the limit would be $48,000. The previous limit in Iowa was 145% of the federal poverty level. The Register reports that families with children with special needs will qualify for assistance if their income is 200% of the federal poverty level.

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