STATEHOUSE — Child care is at a premium in Indiana and lawmakers in the state legislature are moving forward with plans to make child care more accessible for Hoosiers.
The Indiana Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would, in a nutshell, help expand that access by reworking a few rules that childcare providers have to follow under the office of the Secretary of Family and Social Services (FSSA).
State Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso), who authored the bill, has said many times that there are not enough childcare workers in Indiana.
“Child care is an infrastructure issue in Indiana. It affects every aspect of our economy,” he said on the Senate floor. “Immediately, (the bill) addresses the shortfall. There is a crisis in child care and finding employees.”
The bill looks to incentivize more people to get into the childcare profession by increasing the threshold Hoosiers have to meet in order to qualify for state funds to help them with their childcare business. Currently, you have to be making $45,000 a year or less to qualify for those funds. The bill would increase that median household income threshold to $67,000.
Along with that, the bill looks to expand who can become qualified to be a childcare employee. It reduces the age requirement for someone to be a licensed childcare provider from 21 to 18. The bill also states that in some “specific cases” people as young as 16 could become certified.
Charbonneau said the bill will go a long way towards getting rid of what he refers to as “child care deserts.” An example is in Benton County where stats show there are only enough childcare providers there to serve less than 10-percent of children in the county.
Democrats are fully on board with the bill.
“More work is needed and I look forward to supporting legislation that focuses on child care deserts and expands On My Way Pre-K to a universal statewide program,” said State Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis).
The bill passed the State Senate with only one “no” vote. It now heads to the Indiana House for consideration.
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