Childcare Legislation Saga
There has been a bit of rigmarole with the childcare legislation – and a lot of people are very interested, including the business community. Let’s break it down because GNDC has been there watching (always watching) how legislative work has unfolded around this critical workforce barrier. One might say we've been a sage in this saga... just throwing that out there.
First came the Hogan 5-pack.
These were slowly either killed off or amended beyond recognition. The only one that still exists is SB 2238 (Background checks study), which is in conference committee.
Next came SB 2012 serving as the primary vehicle for all childcare components.
In order to understand cost and fit within Dept of Health and Human Services, all components were placed within the department budget bill mirroring the Governor’s Budget recommendations. These included employer match program, provider payments for age under 36 months, background checks streamline, provider support and grants with training dollars, partnerships for non-traditional hours, and supplemented education programming.
Now we have just been made aware of a bill, introduced through the delayed bills process by Rep. E. O’Brien. HB 1540.
This bill strips out the childcare components giving them their own priority and leg to stand on. The “Best in Class” program will stay with DHHS and 2012 proposes removing the sunset. But the difference between 2012 and 1540 is that the delayed bill actually has a larger price tag – allocating more services and supports to the industry including training dollars. The hearing for this bill moved fast – with approval and then reading on the house floor on Monday, the hearing was scheduled within 24 hours.
Here’s an overview of workforce program components of 1540 as proposed:
- $22M for childcare assistance program
- $15M for enhanced childcare assistance for infant and toddlers
- $3M for quality tiers
- $2.3M for low-income assistance
- $500K for technical assistance and outreach
- $5M for employer match program
- $7M for grants and shared services
- $1.8M for care providers during nontraditional hours
- $2M for worker training stipends
- $3M for quality infrastructure development for providers
- $1M for streamlining background checks (more teeth than current form of SB 2238)
This bill is working a lot of angles, but our priorities are within the consideration that there are results to assist our workforce. GNDC’s stance has been from day 1 to encourage solutions that enhance childcare availability and out of school time programming that do not increase costs to businesses. This bill is touching a few weeds that we will watch but our biggest push is for workable solutions and support. We will stand up on this bill, representing the voice of business with the direct message: Lack of childcare is negatively impacting businesses.