Advocates celebrate budget's $60.5 million for child care - as a start

In May, a group of preschoolers gave lawmakers testimony written in Crayon. Along with dozens of adults, they were urging lawmakers to invest millions of dollars in expanding access to affordable child care.

Their legislative efforts helped pass a budget with $15 million to expand the child care workforce and an additional $45.5 million that increases eligibility for child care assistance to families and reimbursements to providers. On Thursday, some of their artwork, now a mural in downtown Concord, was a backdrop as lawmakers and advocates celebrated their victories.

Sen. Becky Whitley, a Hopkinton Democrat and prime sponsor of the legislation behind the $60.5 million, noted that the state is one of fewer than 10 that does not fund pre-K. Others said there must be an effort to ensure there is access to more affordable, quality child care in all parts of the state.

Whitley said more than 40 child care centers have closed in New Hampshire in the last few years, eliminating 1,500 spots for children. She said that when parents are forced to leave jobs because they have no child care, they and the state suffer.

“The child care crisis isn’t an individual problem for families to solve,” she said. “It’s an economic one that requires us all to come to the table for a solution.”

The $15 million for child care is aimed at recruiting and retaining child care workers. Employers would be able to spend on training and education costs, paid time off for employees, and health coverage. Separate legislation added $6.5 million to the budget for women and new families on Medicaid.

Read the full article on NH Bulletin

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