In New Mexico, child care workers got pay raises. In Iowa, 16-year-olds can now supervise 15 children. In Montana, caregivers can watch more toddlers at a time.
With sweeping federal child care legislation stalled in Congress, dozens of states have stepped in to address a growing crisis, as many families have found services both unaffordable and scarce.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has called the situation “a textbook example of a broken market.”
State legislatures, often using federal stimulus money, enacted more than 200 child-care bills in 2021, and another 100 bills were passed in the first half of 2022 — a rate of lawmaking that is twice the average of recent years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
have returned to the work force, contributing to labor shortages in some industries.
In the United States, most families receive little government help with care before children enter kindergarten. Two-thirds of mothers of children under 6, and 94 percent of fathers of that age group, are working for pay, according to federal data. Yet child care is unaffordable for more than 60 percent of families who need it, according to the Treasury Department, and half of all Americans live in places where child care is in short supply.
considering bills that would create 1,000 new seats in infant and toddler programs and centralize the state’s child-care system, which is currently regulated by a number of departments and agencies.
President Biden’s Build Back Better Act would have created a national child-care entitlement, capping costs at 7 percent of most families’ incomes. But the bill sputtered, largely because of opposition from Republicans and Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, who was concerned about the cost of the legislation and about some provisions, like child tax credits, that he thought would discourage parents from working.