N.H. Senate Casts Unanimous Vote to Improve Access to Child Care for Working Families
March 16, 2023
CONCORD, N.H.--This afternoon, the New Hampshire Senate took the first step towards improving access to child care for families when it voted unanimously by voice vote to pass SB 237, the Child Care for NH Working Families Act. The bill will now head to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.
New Hampshire is facing a multi-faceted child care crisis. Families face long waitlists and gaps in care, while the workforce is struggling to recruit and retain qualified early childhood professionals, leading to center closers. Since 2019, 42 licensed facilities have closed, while the cost of care for one infant in New Hampshire has risen to nearly $15,000. Without reliable child care, it is difficult for parents or caregivers to remain in the workforce.
SB 237 addresses these issues by updating New Hampshire’s Child Care Scholarship Program to ensure that more families can access the support. Additionally, SB 237 would make critical investments into child care providers through workforce grants for recruitment and retention, plus investments in regional fingerprinting and improvements in career pathways for high school students interested in early childhood careers.
In response to the Senate vote, Granite State early childhood educators, advocates, and statewide community leaders issued the following statements:
Lindsay Hanson, Sr. Director, Save the Children Action Network: “Strengthening New Hampshire’s childcare system is a win for children, families, and the economy - this bill would address the crisis situation we find ourselves in by helping parents have reliable, quality care while they work, improve inadequate wages for the childcare workforce, and ensure children are in a caring environment that helps them grow!”
MacKenzie Nicholson, Senior Director, MomsRising New Hampshire: “Moms and caregivers across New Hampshire are grateful that the Senate has taken another step forward in addressing our state’s child care crisis. The Child Care for New Hampshire Working Families Act will help families access affordable, quality child care and will better support child care providers and programs so they aren’t forced to close their doors. These changes are urgently needed, and we look forward to them becoming a reality for our state!”
Will Stewart, Executive Director, Stay Work Play: “New Hampshire is an expensive place to live, and child care can be the most expensive bill a young couple pays each month. Increasing access to affordable child care is a great way to encourage young couples to stay and work here in New Hampshire, which benefits businesses and the economy alike. We applaud the Senate for their support of working families throughout the Granite State.”
Rebecca Woitkowski, Kids Count Policy Director, New Futures: “Improving access to affordable child care is essential for families, the workforce, businesses, and the economy here in New Hampshire. Without reliable child care, parents are less likely to choose New Hampshire as a place to raise their family. We thank the Senate for supporting families and the child care workforce with their vote today, and we look forward to SB 237, the Child Care for New Hampshire Working Families Act, progressing through the legislative process.”