Child Care for Working Families
New Hampshire's child care system is in crisis. Child care is not affordable for most families, and the industry is struggling to recruit and retain employees due to low wages and high operational costs.
We MUST do better for New Hampshire's families, businesses, economy, and childcare workforce.
The Child Care for NH Working Families Act (SB 237) supports New Hampshire's child care system. It keeps families working, children healthy and the economy thriving.
The entirety of SB 237, the Child Care for NH Working Families Act, was included in the FY 2024-25 state budget! This includes:
- $45.5 million to provide direct relief to low-wage working families through the New Hampshire Child Care Scholarship Program - an increase of 54.7 percent over the FY 22/23 budget.
- $15 million to support child care workforce recruitment, retention, and scholarship for early childhood professionals.
- Updates to the Child Care Scholarship Program like:
- Enrollment-based scholarships
- Expanded elibiligy to families earning up to 85 percent oof State Median income ($102,000 annually for a family of four)
- Increased reimbursement to child care providers
- No cost-share requirements for lowest-wage families in New Hampshire
Help us work to improve New Hampshire's child care system
Has your family struggled to find affordable child care? Are you a center director finding it difficult to retain staff? Are you a member of the workforce who has to work a second job to make ends meet? If this is your story or you have a similar experience, lawmakers need to hear from you. Your experiences will make all the difference as we work to improve child care in New Hampshire. Ways you can help:
Over 20 early childhood educators, child care center directors, parents, and advocates testified in support of SB 237 during the Senate Health & Human Services Committee hearing on February 15th.
Watch the recording:
- The average cost of child care for an infant in New Hampshire is $14,425, which consumes 37% of a single parent's income and 11% of a two-parent household that earns $120,000 annually. Child care is considered affordable when it consumes no more than 7% of a household's income (US. Department of Health & Human Services).
- Without reliable child care, it is difficult for parents or caregivers to participate in the workforce.
- Low-income families struggle to secure child care due to high costs, which negatively impacts employment opportunities, increases absenteeism, and increases family financial stress.
- 54,019 children under 6 in New Hampshire need child care, but there are only 32,884 available slots in licensed child care facilities statewide - leaving a gap of 21,135 children who may not have access to child care.
- 42 licensed facilities have closed in N.H. since 2019, eliminating 1,459 slots for children.
- Centers have closed facilities or rooms due to staffing shortages, and the rising costs associated with operating a facility such as insurance, utilities, property taxes, maintenance, supplies, and food.
- Access to child care also reduces parental stress and maternal depression, which are risk factors for child abuse, neglect and other risk behaviors associated with adverse childhood experiences.
Women in the Workforce
- 75.8 percent of women ages 25-34 currently participate in New Hampshire's workforce - a decline of nearly 10% since the start of the pandemic.
- If a family cannot find child care, women are often the ones to leave the workforce.
- New Hampshire’s businesses suffer from a reduced pool of qualified workers and the ripple effects of decreased consumer spending and higher employee turnover rates.
- Increasing the labor force participation rate of women by just 1.3 percent (10,000) would add over $1 billion to New Hampshire's gross domestic product by 2031.
The Child Care Workforce
- The average annual salary for a child care worker in New Hampshire is $24,490, which amounts to less than $12 per hour.
- The child care system is not subsidized and therefore the industry struggles to recruit and retain employees due to low wages.
- Unlike other professions, few pathways to education, training, and advancement exist for child care professionals.
The NH Legislature and governor have the opportunity to support major investments in Granite State women’s health and workforce participation this year — that is, if they pass a budget including the MOMnibus Act and the Child Care for Working Families Act.
Clover, a 6-month-old infant with a pink bow on her head, spent May 2 at a Senate Finance Committee hearing with her mom, Isabelle Plante. Clover didn’t have much to say, but Plante was “fired up” about the lack of accessible child care in the state.
Over several hours Tuesday, the public mostly urged the Senate Finance Committee to support the $15.9 billion budget the House sent it.
New Hampshire lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on the housing crisis, pay raises for state employees and more funding for child care centers as they consider the proposed state budget.
A field hearing hosted at the Conway Public Library on April 19 by the N.H. House Special Committee on Childcare drew a crowd that aired concerns about child-care availability.
Fred Kocher and Michael Skelton discuss what the New Hampshire Legislature is doing to ease the constraints on the state's workforce.
A Conway-area teacher shares her family's struggles with the child care crisis in a rural community.
Staffing shortages, affordability and accessibility all continue to be obstacles to finding child care in New Hampshire, and state and federal officials are trying to find solutions. Many parents say they have struggled to find child care so they can go to work.
Paul L Dann, PhD, executive director of NFI North describes how employee vacancies caused in-part by a lack of affordable child care, result in a long waitlist for the behavioral health services that NFI North provides.
Leslie Ela, a care coordinator with the Care Coordination Program of New Hampshire (CCP-NH), writes about how a lack of child care affects the military families she works with - and her own family.
Kristen Grady, a working parent of twins, explains her family's struggles with child care and how SB 237 would improve access to child care for families like hers.
Kerry McKeen of Charlestown writes about her experiences in early childhood education and how SB 237 would make a difference.
Host Fred Kocher is joined by Jackie Cowell and Will Stewart to discuss what is being done to provide more child care resources to NH.
Rebecca Woitkowski and Lindsay Hanson showcase the importance of the Child Care for New Hampshire Working Families Act (SB 237).
On any given day at the Waypoint Children’s Place and Education Center, Kelly Bozetarnik wears many different hats. Her formal role is the director. But most days at the child care center off of Loudon Road, she is a director, a teacher, an assistant and even the chef, making breakfast and lunch for children enrolled.
Planet Money breaks down the economics of why child care waitlists are long and the staff is underpaid.
New Futures' Michele Merritt and Rebecca Woitkowski discuss how affordable and accessible child care benefits New Hampshire's businesses.