States Are Taking Day Care Costs Into Their Own Hands With Affordable Child Care Programs

As the curtain falls on the $52.5 billion childcare relief initiative spearheaded by the Biden administration and Congress, a patchwork of innovative state-level solutions has emerged to fill the void.

According to The Associated Press, policymakers nationwide have acknowledged that a federal remedy is unlikely to arise in the near future, sparking them to get ahead of the matter and craft novel approaches to fund and sustain childcare programs. State initiatives include the expansion of low-cost or free preschool and early childhood education. Legislators have devised permanent funding mechanisms to ensure the longevity of these endeavors.

In a trailblazing move, New Mexico has used petroleum revenue to make child care a universally accessible commodity for nearly all families in the state. Since making the change in 2022, early childhood initiatives now receive a fortified financial lifeline from the proceeds of leasing state lands to oil and gas companies. The estimated annual influx: $150 million.

Washington state has implemented a novel 7% tax on residents’ investment profits to fuel its ambitious child care aspirations to offer free preschool for low-income families, childcare vouchers for households with low to moderate income, and high-quality infant care for children with developmental concerns, by the end of the decade. However, a looming referendum in November could potentially derail this progress by repealing the tax, sparking concerns among childcare advocates.

Kentucky is offering to cover or reduce the cost of daycare for parents employed in early care and education. Launched in 2023, the program seeks to address two challenges simultaneously: alleviating the worker shortage plaguing the industry and providing more affordable childcare options for families.

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) reported that Kentucky’s program has heavily garnered attention from several states. CSCCE estimated that “approximately 234,300 workers with children under age six could benefit from the Kentucky model” if all 50 states, including Washington D.C., implemented the program.

While the most substantial investments have come from Democratic ranks, Republican state lawmakers have also embraced plans to bolster child care.

RELATED CONTENT: 4 Ways To Help Make Child Care Crisis Less Challenging For Single Black Mothers

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