March 7, 2022 12:12pm
HB 499 – Employer Child Care Assistance Program
In February, Representative Samara Heavrin (R-Leitchfield) introduced House Bill 499, which would establish the Employer Child Care Assistance Program. This public-private partnership would address the affordability of childcare, which is a major barrier to workforce participation for many families and would help employers to attract and retain talent by allowing them to double the size of this critical employer benefit.
Why we need it
Kentucky has historically had one of the lowest workforce participation rates in the nation, an unfortunate distinction that has only worsened since the onset of the pandemic. Since March 2020, available daycare slots have decreased by nearly 10% in Jefferson County and as many as 100,000 Kentucky women left the workforce due to the lack of reliable and affordable childcare. With the average costs of high-quality child care ranging upwards of $11,000 for an infant in some areas, the financial burden has changed the calculation for many working parents who have opted to leave the workforce altogether. This reduces Kentucky’s participating workforce, impacting businesses who are struggling to attract and retain workers during this period of economic recovery.
How it works
Qualifying employers and child care providers could opt-in to this innovative program, which would match an employer’s child care assistance funding to the employee with state dollars up to 100%. Employees with wages below the state median income (SMI) would receive 100% of the state match and employees at or above the SMI would receive 80% of the match.
How this will help businesses and communities
In this exceptionally tight labor market, employers are examining their offered benefits to attract and retain workers. This program would encourage both non-profit and for-profit businesses to offer child care assistance knowing that their contribution will stretch with the state match to make even more of an impact for the employee. Making child care more financially feasible for working families encourages them to remain in the workforce and ensures that more Kentucky children have access to high-quality early childhood educational experiences.
Where it stands
HB 499 has broad bi-partisan support with 55 co-sponsors, but it has not yet advanced in the House. GLI strongly encourages the House to consider this in Committee and take action to address one of the biggest hurdles affecting Kentucky’s workforce