Federal relief funding for child care providers will be considered again at the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee meeting on Tuesday, following pressure from providers across the state and Gov. Brad Little’s budget chief.
The Idaho House of Representatives voted down the $200 million Division of Welfare’s budget by a vote of 27-42 in early April, with some lawmakers voicing concerns about $34 million in federal funding from a bill passed by the U.S. Congress in December. The Division of Welfare’s budget is overseen by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Legislators took issue with the 28.8% increase in federal dollars, saying it was a “sizable amount of money.”
The funding would help to sustain $5,000 monthly grants for licensed child care providers and provide wage enhancements for child care center staffers. The Department of Health and Welfare told a legislative committee that since summer 2020, 836 child care providers have been receiving monthly grants depending on the size of the center. Of those, 487 providers qualify for the $5,000 grants as child care centers.
Child care providers across the Treasure Valley closed their centers on Monday to demonstrate outside the Idaho Capitol building and call attention to how many people it would affect if more child care centers are forced to close. According to Idaho Voices for Children organizers, about 4,800 children were affected by Monday’s closures.
Alex Adams, Little’s chief budget officer, sent a memo to the committee reiterating the governor’s support for the programs funded by federal relief dollars. This includes $26 million for a child care and development block grant, $70 million in child care stabilization grants, and $3.12 million in child care entitlement to states. In addition to the monthly grants and wage enhancements, the funding will also help decrease co-pays for some families to help with child care costs.
“Each of the above programs has a time limit associated with claiming and expending the funds,” Adams said in the memo. “… Each of these programs can help facilitate Idaho’s economic rebound, while ensuring we do not create ongoing obligations with one-time federal funding. Standing up the programs now will have a more meaningful impact than waiting until 2022, as we believe the need for these programs will lessen with time.”
The agenda for the JFAC committee meeting is located here. The committee will meet at 8 a.m.FY 2022 ARPA May 3