New Legislation Supports Child Care in Maryland

Posted June 6, 2022
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A young female childcare worker of color sits with a pre-school-age Brown girl in a day care setting. The two are engaged in a learning activity.

Par­ents and child care providers in Mary­land can expect improved and expand­ed assis­tance thanks to the recent pas­sage of eight pieces of legislation.

I’m heart­ened by the increased pub­lic atten­tion and sup­port for child care as an indus­try,” says Lau­ra Weel­drey­er, exec­u­tive direc­tor of Mary­land Fam­i­ly Net­work, a grantee of the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion that pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion for leg­is­la­tors about the effects of the pro­posed policies.

The cen­ter­piece of the pack­age is leg­is­la­tion that helps eli­gi­ble par­ents access child care through the state’s Child Care Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram. Cur­rent­ly, par­ents in low-income house­holds may wait weeks to be approved for the pro­gram. Under the bill, appli­cants will be pre­sumed eli­gi­ble for finan­cial sup­port pend­ing a final deter­mi­na­tion and allowed to enroll their chil­dren with­out any delay. 

Under the new leg­is­la­tion, appli­cants will no longer have to pur­sue child sup­port pay­ments in order to become eli­gi­ble for child care sub­si­dies, pre­vi­ous­ly an obsta­cle for many sin­gle parents.

Dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, child care providers across the coun­try strug­gled to retain staff and stay open. The leg­isla­tive pack­age will sup­port providers by:

  • allo­cat­ing $53 mil­lion in state funds for grants to child care providers who are strug­gling finan­cial­ly ― funds that will essen­tial­ly replace fed­er­al mon­ey allo­cat­ed in the past two years;
  • estab­lish­ing a no-inter­est loan fund for child care providers to acquire, expand or ren­o­vate facil­i­ties; and
  • cre­at­ing a fund to pay hir­ing and reten­tion bonus­es for child care staff, help­ing providers com­pete with employ­ers that offer sim­i­lar bonus­es to new workers.

The pack­age also funds two pro­grams intend­ed to meet the grow­ing demand for men­tal health sup­port ser­vices for young chil­dren at child care cen­ters as well as ther­a­peu­tic child care sup­port for chil­dren with devel­op­men­tal issues. Last­ly, the leg­is­la­tion makes the pur­chase of dia­pers, car seats and oth­er baby prod­ucts exempt from state sales tax, pro­vid­ing some addi­tion­al finan­cial relief to parents.

High-qual­i­ty, acces­si­ble and afford­able child care is a vital require­ment for par­ents look­ing to com­plete their edu­ca­tion, suc­ceed in the work­force and pro­vide for the healthy devel­op­ment of their chil­dren. I hope these steps will help child care remain a viable, sus­tain­able busi­ness and that we attract tal­ent­ed won­der­ful peo­ple who real­ly care about kids because there’s a tremen­dous need,” says Weel­drey­er. I hope fam­i­lies find child care providers who are afford­able, acces­si­ble and who they feel a good part­ner­ship with.”

Learn How Qual­i­ty Ear­ly Child­hood Edu­ca­tion Helps Kids and Parents

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