Iowa Initiative Solving one of Iowa’s Greatest Workforce Challenges – Childcare

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A proud Iowa native, Sheri was raised in Williamsburg and currently resides in Osage. She earned a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Iowa and most recently served as the Economic Development Director for Mitchell County—where she was working to increase access to quality affordable child care.

A child care provider in the past, she offers firsthand knowledge of all perspectives.

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Sheri is known in her networks as a collaborator, connector and visionary who does not shy away from a challenge. As IWF’s Employment Engagement Director, she enjoys working with businesses of all sizes to find child care solutions that benefit everyone and strengthen the community.

Of the six primary barriers to work, stakeholders across the state identified access to quality, affordable child care as the most critical. While there is no one solution for the child care crisis, everyone can work together to help alleviate it. Learn more about how communities, businesses, and child care providers play a role in finding solutions.

Research shows that access to child care matters a lot. Employee exit surveys have found child care is listed in the top three reasons for turnover, and in a study conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), it can take up to 60% of an employee’s annual salary to find their direct replacement.

Child care issues also cause working parents to be absent from work for nearly two weeks per year. According to the Early Care & Learning Council, when companies provide child care benefits, employee absences decrease by up to 30%, and job turnover declines by as much as 60%.

Sheri and the Iowa Women’s Foundation will be hosting the 2023 Iowa solutions Summit on Childcare on December 6th at Prairie Meadows. Manufacturing Leaders, Community Leaders and Economic Development Professionals in communities challenged by childcare capacity are invited to attend to learn more about how to build a workable solution to drive more working parents into the workforce. For more information, go to: or contact Sheri Penney at

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