Addressing Child Care Challenges
Indiana lawmakers are diligently working towards prioritizing legislation aimed at enhancing the availability and affordability of child care. In line with other states, Indiana is proposing measures to tackle child care challenges, including deregulation and incentives for businesses. The state aims to clear early deadlines in the Republican-controlled General Assembly by introducing measures that seek to undo regulations and incentivize business.
The Cost of Child Care in Indiana
According to Brighter Futures Indiana, a partnership between the state’s Family and Social Services Administration and the nonprofit Early Learning Indiana, the average cost of child care in Indiana is $166 per week. The cost increases for younger children, making child care a significant financial burden for families.
A Top Priority for Lawmakers
Improving access and affordability of child care has been listed as a top priority for Senate and House Republicans, as well as Governor Eric Holcomb. In an effort to address accessibility to care, senators, with bipartisan support, approved an agenda item that would expand eligibility to a child care subsidy program for employees in the field who have children of their own. Similar measures have been introduced in other states like Colorado and Nebraska.
Support for the Proposal
Child care organizations and various business groups support the proposed legislation. Governor Holcomb has also included parts of the proposal in his own annual agenda. Supporters argue that the lack of affordable child care in Indiana hinders economic growth by limiting individuals’ ability to participate in the workforce.
Rolling Back Regulations
Lawmakers in Indiana are also looking to roll back some regulations on child care providers. A Republican-backed bill aims to extend the facility license duration from two to three years. Additionally, certain child care programs in schools would be exempt from licensure, and child care centers in residential homes would be able to increase their operating hours and serve up to eight children instead of six.
Debate and Concerns
While the bill received support from Democratic lawmakers during the floor vote, they emphasized the need to continue addressing the issue into the next year when the state creates a new budget. One bill awaiting approval before the deadline seeks to provide property tax exemptions to for-profit centers and companies that establish on-site child care for their employees.
However, some lawmakers, such as State Rep. Vanessa Summers, expressed concerns about rolling back regulations. Summers stated that real investments in child care infrastructure, rather than reducing regulations, are the answer to improving child care in the state. Republican leaders argue that easing operational requirements can alleviate burdens on businesses.
Indiana lawmakers’ commitment to prioritizing legislation to improve child care availability and affordability reflects the recognition of its significance for the state’s economy and its impact on the lives of families.