Rep. Brooke Green, D-Boise, handed out cutout hands and feet of children in day care centers across the Treasure Valley just before the House vote on child care grant funding that providers say is essential to their survival (Courtesy of Rep. Brooke Green).
Just before the House of Representatives voted on $70 million in federal child care grant funding, Rep. Brooke Green, D-Boise, handed out paper cutouts of tiny hands and feet with names and ages of children and a message that read “Fund My Future” on the back to all 70 members. Her own cutout was from 1-year-old Maisie.
“One representative said to me, ‘I used the handprint to press the ‘yes’ button,’” Green said.
The 38-27 vote on Tuesday was a victory for child care centers across the Treasure Valley and the state after they lobbied legislators on Monday to approve the funding that originally failed in the House in April. Fearing the Legislature would adjourn without approving the funds, 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.
Lori Fascilla, director of Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Centers, said she and other providers were thrilled by the news.
“We’re really proud of our legislators and our state for recognizing how important this is for our economic recovery and children and families,” Fascilla said. “We’re pretty proud of our efforts, and as an industry we are proud of the fact that we just banded together and were able to do this.”
The House also approved $36 million in child care development block grants to be used for children between the ages of 5 and 13 for in-person programs such as the Boys and Girls Club and 4-H. That bill passed with significantly more support, 50-15.
The $70 million in stabilization funds would sustain $5,000 monthly grants for licensed child care providers and provide wage enhancements for child care center staffers.
The wage enhancement provides $2 to $3 more per hour for workers, who child care center directors have said are increasingly difficult to attract to the low-wage jobs.
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.
The two bills could receive consideration in the Senate as soon as Wednesday morning.
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