Rep. Hinson shines spotlight on tiny constituents

Makes stop at Dysart’s Little Knights daycare

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) tours Little Knights Learning Center in Dysart on Tuesday, Nov. 23. Photos by Soren M. Peterson

Child care and workforce shortages as well as rural stabilization were in the spotlight this past Tuesday, Nov. 23, at Dysart’s Little Knights Learning Center thanks to a visit from U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa).

Rep. Hinson — who is in her first term as the U.S. representative from Iowa’s 1st congressional district — spent more than an hour chatting with the center’s staff and touring the brand new child care facility located at 1102 Clark Street which opened this past July.

As the center’s director Megan Bessman led the tour from room to room, the conversation moved nimbly along a variety of topics including the ongoing workforce shortage, how to raise the pay for child care workers which would considerably elevate the profession, the costly expense of child care in America, the complexity in fundraising for a new child care center like Little Knights, as well as the desperate need for child care in rural areas and how that relates to keeping communities like Dysart viable.

Rep. Hinson paused the more serious aspects of her conversation as she entered each classroom in order to visit with the tiny constituents present which included infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Although her own two children have since aged out of the most critical child care years of birth to five, Rep. Hinson shared several experiences of her own in accessing quality, affordable child care including how the first phone call she made upon discovering she was pregnant for the second time was not to her husband nor to her parents, but to her child care provider.

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) visits with a baby in the infant room of Little Knights Learning Center in Dysart on Nov. 23. Rep. Hinson commented on the pretty manicure the tiny tot was sporting. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

Following the tour, the North Tama Telegraph asked Rep. Hinson to comment on her vote against the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act back in February — a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill signed into law by President Joe Biden in March — which included $39 billion in new child care funding in the form of both stabilization and child care/development grants.

The possibility of receiving such federal funds was addressed enthusiastically during the tour by representatives from Little Knights Learning Center’s board which is still working to raise funds toward the center’s $1.4 million capital campaign.

Little Knights received a $500,000 loan from the city of Dysart and a

$100,000 loan from Farmers Coop Telephone Company for the building’s construction.

Rep. Hinson said the total price tag of the ARP Act was one of her reasons for not supporting it as well as the manner in which the bill expanded the Child Tax Credit.

“What [ARP Act] did is fundamentally change the way the Child Tax Credit is delivered. I support the Child Tax Credit. I’m a beneficiary of it myself. … We want to be supporting working families as much as we can but unfortunately what we’ve seen is a spending spigot that’s been turned on with disrespect to all the other policies that were in those bills,” Rep. Hinson said.

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (right) visits with Little Knights Learning Center Director Megan Bessman during a tour of the Dysart child care facility on Nov. 23. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

The expansion of the Child Tax Credit included increasing the credit from $2,000 to $3,000 per child for children over the age of six and from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under the age of six.

The ARP Act also included automatic monthly payments of $250 or $300 per child as a way of dispersing half of the Child Tax Credit this year with the remainder coming when parents file their 2021 tax returns, according to the White House’s Child Tax Credit fact sheet.

The White House website states: “Previously, low-income families did not get the same amount or any of the Child Tax Credit. Under the American Rescue Plan, all families in need will get the full amount.”

“I think we should be getting back to the Child Tax Credit option that you have to work to get it,” Rep. Hinson further said. “Ultimately we want to make sure we’re supporting working families with children … I want to make sure it’s sustainable and the way it’s set up right now, it’s not.”

When further prompted to specifically comment on the $39 billion funding for child care that was included as part of the ARP Act, Rep. Hinson said she does not disagree with the child care spending included under the bill.

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson chats with Faith Miller (seated) as she rocks a baby in the infant room at Little Knights Learning Center in Dysart on Nov. 23. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

“Not everything in the bill was bad,” Rep. Hinson said. “The problem is the totality of the spending. We’re approaching seven trillion in spending this year.”

Little Knights Learning Center Board President Wanda Petersen, Dysart Mayor Tim Glenn, and state Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Montour) were also among those who toured the building with Rep. Hinson.

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (left) tours the kitchen at Little Knights Learning Center on Nov. 23. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

A young constituent glances toward the camera while U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (not pictured) visits with her class during a visit at Little Knights Learning Center in Dysart on Nov. 23. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker