Iowa mother battling breast cancer has a message about the need for affordable child care

Posted at 11:51 AM, May 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-30 11:51:16-04

DES MOINES, Iowa - Jennifer Harris, a Des Moines mother, said Wednesday that her breast cancer has spread. Her chemotherapy isn't stopping it. She can't work because of her illness. And she can't afford childcare.

Her situation became so desperate that she recently had to bring her 3-year-old son along with her for her treatment because she had no one to care for him.

"My cancer has spread," Harris said at a news conference Wednesday inside the Children and Families of Iowa Child Development Center in Des Moines, "That's scary."

Harris hopes her story demonstrates the need for more affordable childcare.

"My son has to go with me to chemo," she said, "That's very sad."

More than four in ten Iowa child care centers closed over the past five years, putting more strain on lower-income Iowans who already face a host of other challenges.

Harris joined members of the Children's Policy Coalition, a group of 20 child advocacy organizations in the state, that launched The Caucus for Kids campaign.  The group released a poll by Selzer & Company of 500 Iowans who voted in the 2016 and/or the 2018 election and the results show that 80 percent of people mentioned the overall well-being of children as a top priority.