Child Care

Refundability 101 3

In Utah, raising a family with children is expensive. Whether or not a family can afford child care depends on income remaining after paying basic household expenses.

To help policymakers understand these challenges, we're introducing the Utah Child Care Affordability Calculator. Developed by the Committee for Economic Development in collaboration with Voices for Utah Children, Promise Partnership Utah, and Utah Community Builders, this tool helps illustrate a clearer picture of the finances of everyday Utah families.

The Utah Child Care Affordability Calculator isn't for families choosing child care. Instead, it's a policy tool. It helps policymakers understand how families' finances intersect with child care costs. By selecting a county, users can see if families, based on median income, can afford licensed child care after covering basic expenses.

This tool highlights the hurdles families face in affording child care and accessing the Child Care Assistance Program. It's a call to action for policymakers to address child care affordability.

 

Access the Child Care Affordability Calculator Here 

 

Published in News & Blog

This open letter was released on January 31, 2024, by Neighborhood House and Voices for Utah Children, two non-profit organizations working together with other community partners to create a better childcare system in Utah for the benefit of all the children in care. You can sign on, too, by completing this short form

The undersigned community leaders urge the Utah State Legislature to take bold action on proposals that invest more dollars into Utah’s early education and childcare infrastructure.

Investing in a robust, high-quality childcare system and creating in-state infrastructure, is one of the best investments we can make for our children, and our state.

A well-supported early care and education system supports families by increasing their earning potential so they can get out of, and stay out of, poverty. It also contributes to the success of children in our school systems and as future contributors to our community.

Approximately 77% of Utahns live in a childcare desert, demonstrating that the majority of our state lacks sufficient licensed childcare to meet families’ needs (Voices for Utah Children, 2023). This predicament stems from both limited availability of services and the strikingly high cost of quality care. When available, the high cost of care inhibits lower income families from participating in the workforce.

For childcare to be considered affordable, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests that a family should pay no more than 7% of its household income for childcare services. In more than half of Utah's 29 counties, families are burdened with paying between 15% and 20% of their annual income for infant/toddler care at licensed childcare facilities. (Voices for Utah Children, 2023)

The current amount of investment by state government is insufficient to address these needs. Choosing high-quality childcare is out of reach for most families, and is unattainable by most childcare providers because of the labor-intensive nature of the industry.

Without government investment, families are left with low quality options that endanger children, and disincentivize providers. We are calling on the Utah Legislature to invest more dollars into the childcare industry. With cross sector collaboration between business, the philanthropic community, and government entities, we can address this crisis and become a model for the nation.

This is truly an investment, as the long-term positive outcomes for our state are significant.

  • Utah's economic prosperity is directly tied to the success and stability of its workforce. Currently, Utah’s economy loses $1.36 billion annually due to lack of childcare access. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2022)
  • Investing in our children during the most formative times of their lives staves off costly interventions that come later in life, including in our school systems. (Davis Schoch, 2023)
  • The outcomes are proven: Adults who receive early childhood education as children are more likely than their peers to finish high school, have higher lifetime earnings, and avoid involvement in the criminal justice system. (Davis Schoch, 2023)

We urge you to use your influence and position to champion increased prudent investment in our state’s childcare system.

Please, take bold action for our state’s future.

Letter Signatories
(as of March 31, 2024)

  • Lisa Eccles, President and COO, George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation
  • Spencer and Kristine Eccles
  • Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation
  • Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation
  • Angela and Zeke Dumke
  • Jeffrey & Helen Cardon Foundation
  • Richard K. and Shirley S. Hemingway Foundation
  • Carol W. and John H. Firmage, III
  • Millerberg Family Giving Fund 
  • Semnani Family Foundation 
  • The McGuire Family Foundation 
  • BMW of Murray
  • MINI of Murray
  • BMW Pleasant Grove
  • Firmco
  • Motoring Skins
  • Krystal Nielsen, Lil Oaklies Childcare
  • Katie Ricord, Utah Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Kristy DeGraaf, Childcare Provider, Children’s Tylenol National Childcare Teacher of the Year
  • IJ & Jeanné Wagner Jewish Community Center
  • Salt Lake Chamber
  • Neighborhood House
  • The Children’s Center Utah
  • Utah Non-Profit Association
  • Utah Afterschool Network
  • United Way of Salt Lake
  • Ogden Contemporary Arts
  • Utah Child Care Cooperative
  • YWCA Utah
  • Holy Cross Ministries
  • Early Childhood Alliance
  • Utah Care for Kids Network
  • Utah Center for Civic Improvement
  • Voices for Utah Children
  • South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society (Salt Lake City)
  • Canyon Creek Services (Cedar City)
  • Friends of the Children Utah (Kearns)
  • YCC Family Crisis Center (Ogden)
  • Seekhaven, Inc. (Moab)
  • Peace House (Park City)
  • English Skills Learning Center (Murray)
  • Northeastern Utah Friends Against Family Violence (Vernal)
  • Ashley Ence, Sunny Kids, LLC (Saint George)
  • Moab Community Childcare (Moab)
  • Bright Beginnings Academy (South Jordan)
  • KaRis KiDdos (Magna)
  • North Star Children's Center (Kaysville)
  • Little Geniuses Learning Center LLC (Pleasant Grove)
  • Little Orchard Preschools and. Learning Centers (Bountiful)
  • ABC Great Beginnings (Taylorsville)
  • Kool Kidz Adventure Academy (Clearfield) 
  • Tiny Woodland LLC (Bountiful)
  • Erin Aguilar (North Salt Lake)
  • Nando Arroyo (Salt Lake City)
  • Michelle Barker (Woods Cross)
  • Jenn Bean (Midvale)
  • Stacy Bernal (Ogden)
  • Robyn Blackburn (American Fork)
  • Ana Castaneda (Salt Lake City)
  • Merry Clift (Salt Lake City)
  • Dana Cremeno (Park City
  • Mikenna DeBruin (Draper)
  • Erica Flugan (Salt Lake City)
  • Carlie Fowles (Manti)
  • Maria Sara Gonzales (Salt Lake City)
  • Reverend Brent Gundlah (Salt Lake City)
  • Janie Harris (Nephi)
  • Tyler Harris (Nephi)
  • Jessica Jauregui (Salt Lake City)
  • Caressa King (American Fork)
  • Heather Larsen (Nephi)
  • Rhiana Medina (Moab)
  • Rylee Messick (Eagle Mountain)
  • Jessica Mirabile (Sandy)
  • Monique Montoya (West Valley)
  • Hayley Neff (Salt Lake City)
  • Curtis Price (Salt Lake City)
  • Stephen Scoville (Salt Lake City)
  • Sally Tauber (Park City)
  • Marisela Valerio (Salt Lake City)
  • Maria Zavala (Salt Lake City) 
  • Jamie Bitton (Ogden)
  • Kate Blanch (Ogden)
  • Tricia Bunderson (Lehi)
  • Amariah Gibbs (Salt Lake City)
  • Brenda Gonzalez (Salt Lake City)
  • Brittany Greenwood (West Jordan)
  • Eddie Greenwood (Salt Lake City)
  • Todd Hepworth (Santaquin)
  • Robin Hough (Salt Lake City)
  • Jeff Howell (Salt Lake City)
  • Jennifer Johnson (Syracuse)
  • Mariana Kraschowetz (Salt Lake City)
  • Amber Lewis (Kaysville) 
  • Alysse Loomis (Salt Lake City)
  • Lianna Lopez (Kamas)
  • Natalie Mason (Salt Lake City)
  • Bree Murphy (Salt Lake City) 
  • Reverend David Nichols (Salt Lake City)
  • Reba Kiger-kolasch (Salt Lake City) 
  • Connie Roller (Salt Lake City) 
  • Jennifer Rosas (Salt Lake City) 
  • Eduardo Rubalcava (Magna)
  • Sean Schilling (Smithfield)
  • Susan R. Madsen (Bountiful) 
  • Reverend Jamie White (Salt Lake City) 
  • Mackenzie Genecov (Park City)
  • Lucia Miramontes (Salt Lake City)
  • Julie Adam (Salt Lake City)
  • Shelby Averett (Salt Lake City)
  • Alison Dedman (Cottonwood Heights)
  • Monica Delgadillo (Bountiful)
  • David Durrant (Cottonwood Heights)
  • Elaine Ellis (Salt Lake City)
  • Hannah Eldredge (Salt Lake City)
  • Kayley Heier (North Salt Lake)
  • John Hewes (Salt Lake City)
  • Lindsay Larkin (Salt Lake City)
  • Jen Milner (Salt Lake City)
  • Brittany Mitchell (Salt Lake City)
  • Elizabeth Moon (Salt Lake City)
  • Reverend Chelsea Page (Salt Lake City)
  • Melanie Pehrson (Salt Lake City)
  • Erica Sánchez (West Valley City)
  • Catherine Sharpsteen (Salt Lake City)
  • Brooke Skelton (West Valley City)
  • Karla Smith (Salt Lake City)
  • Sadé Turner (Salt Lake City)
  • Paul Walker (Farmington)
  • Sue Womack (Springville)
  • Gabriella Archuleta (Holladay)
  • Sebastian De Freitas (Salt Lake City)
  • Jason Johnson (Salt Lake City)
  • Allison Nicholson (Salt Lake City)
  • Kalolaine Tamoua (Salt Lake City)
  • Cassidie Archuleta (Murray)
  • Richard Biren (Lehi)
  • Neal Davis (South Jordan)
  • Emmie Gardner (Bountiful)
  • Molly McFadden (Salt Lake City)
  • Meredith Muller (Salt Lake City)
  • Ze Min Xiao (Salt Lake City) 
  • Maggie Beers (Salt Lake City)
  • Vicki Dickinson (West Jordan)
  • Aubrey Meyer (Salt Lake City)
  • Maureen O'Malley Kirschner (Salt Lake City) 
  • Rebecca Burggraaf (Salt Lake City)
  • Jacqueline Diaz (Salt Lake City)
  • Emilie Anderson (Salt Lake City)
  • Nirla Harris (South Jordan)
  • Hannah McBrayer (Salt Lake City)
  • Danelle Montero (Salt Lake City) 
  • Diane Nielsen (Millcreek)
  • Brennan Replogle (Salt Lake City)
  • Leigh Tolboe (Salt Lake City)
  • Liliana Torres (West Jordan)
  • Sara Troutman (Salt Lake City)
  • Marcus Volk (Salt Lake City)
  • Grace Watts (Tooele)
  • Chris Weigel (Salt Lake City) 
  • Maxine Baldwin (Riverton)
  • Sam Mecham (West Jordan)
  • Melea Rogers (Ogden)
  • Rose Valderramos (Salt Lake City)
  • Jackilyn Wadsworth (West Valley City)
  • Jeanetta Wadsworth (Smithfield)

You can add your foundation, business, organization or name by completing our simple form below. 

Sign on today!

References

Davis Schoch, A. S. (2023). Children’s learning and development benefits from high-quality early care and education: A summary of the evidence. OPRE Report #2023-226. Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (2022). Untapped Potential in Utah: How Childcare Impacts Utah's Workforce Productivity and the State Economy. 

Voices for Utah Children. (2023). Mapping Care for Kids: A County-Level Look at Utah's Crisis in Licensed Child Care. Salt Lake City.

Published in News & Blog

When the pandemic hit, child care was one of the first sectors in crisis. But action in the form of federal aid and swift state program implementation prevented widespread program closures. The nearly $600 million Utah received in federal child care funds helped stabilize the historically struggling sector and defied national trends by expanding the number of child care slots available. This substantial funding is estimated to have supported child care services for over 85,200 children in Utah.

As federal COVID-era funds begin to wind down, child care providers and the parents they serve are looking to elected officials to ensure that the sector doesn’t immediately fall back into total crisis. Child Care Stabilization Grants, a key program of the funding, are currently playing a vital role in enabling child care providers to stay open, keep costs down for families, and raise wages in an industry that has been long plagued by inadequate compensation. Unfortunately, the lack of commitment from federal, state, or local governments to sustain these successful programs with new funding means most COVID-era programs will end, ultimately leaving parents with ballooning child care costs, and abandoning child care providers to navigate a broken system.

Starting in October, Utah families will begin to experience the impact of the child care funding cliff.

What change is happening this fall?

As federal funding runs out, Utah’s Office of Child Care (OCC) will reduce monthly Child Care Stabilization grant amounts by 75% in October. By June 2024, the grants will end entirely.

How will this change impact Utah providers and families?

Providers are preparing now for the impending grant reductions. For example, PC Tots, a program in Park City, already announced tuition increases due to a funding gap of $620,000 from the loss of ARPA money. One family reported a $1,000 monthly tuition increase for their two children enrolled in PC Tots, highlighting the financial strain this poses for many families.

The wind-down and ultimate end of stabilization grants also presents additional concerns for providers. When surveyed, 36.7% providers anticipate being unable to sustain wage increases for their child care staff or, in some cases, will have to cut wages. Without intervention, this will likely to lead to higher turnover rates among child care staff, resulting in more disruptions in care for families and a further reduction in available child care slots, statewide, due to understaffing.

How will the end of stabilization grants impact Utah's child care sector?

A recent report from The Century Foundation identified Utah as one of six states where half or more of all licensed child care programs statewide could close, without new funding to replace the federal support.

Their analysis estimates that in Utah:

  • 35,614 children will lose access to child care.
  • 663 child care programs will be forced to close their doors.
  • Parents will experience a collective loss of $101 million in earnings.
  • 1,304 child care jobs will be lost.

Deep, structural problems within the child care system existed well before the COVID pandemic; those problems will persist and worsen when COVID-era funding runs out. With 77% of Utahns living in child care deserts, parents already allocating 14-25% of their income on care, and providers making less than animal caretakers, we can’t afford to reduce our investment in child care. The child care market faces new challenges too. The current robust job market has made it increasingly difficult for child care providers to compete for good employees. And inflation has caused the cost of normal expenses to skyrocket for families. 

As we look towards the fall, parents and providers should prepare for these difficulties. But also, state and local policymakers need to pay attention and ask what they can do to mitigate a new child care crisis. 

 

This blog post is part of a series of blog posts examining Utah's child care funding cliff. You can find the other posts here:

To learn more about our initiative to invest in child care, go to UtahCareforKids.org

Published in News & Blog

Utah Shines in Child Well-Being Rankings, Yet the Strain of Inaccessible, Unaffordable Child Care Pushes Parents to the Breaking Point

Utah made significant strides in overall child well-being, moving up to second place in the country from fourth last year, according to the 2023 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a 50-state report of recent household data developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that analyzes how children and families are faring. However, our country’s lack of affordable and accessible child care short-changes children and causes parents in Utah to frequently miss work or even quit their jobs, while those who can find care pay dearly for it. These child care challenges cost the American economy billions of dollars a year and stymie women professionally.

Screenshot 2023 06 22 at 8.19.24 PM

The Data Book reports that too many parents cannot secure child care compatible with work schedules and commutes. In addition, the Data Book reports that in 2020—21, 13% of Utah children birth to age five lived in families in which someone quit, changed, or refused a job because of problems with child care. And women are five to eight times more likely than men to experience negative employment consequences related to caregiving.

Even if parents can find an opening at child care near their home, they often can’t pay for it. Utah’s average cost of center-based child care for toddlers was $9,003 per year, 9% of the median income of a married couple and 24% of a single mother’s income in the state.

While the cost of care burdens families, child care workers are paid worse than 98% of professions. Median national pay for child care workers was $28,520 per year or $13.71 an hour in 2022, less than the wage for retail ($14.26) and customer service ($18.16) workers.

According to one study, the failings of the child care market also affect the current and future health of the American economy, costing $122 billion a year in lost earnings, productivity, and tax revenue. These challenges put parents under tremendous stress to meet the dual responsibilities of providing for their families and ensuring their children are safe and nurtured.

Each year, the Data Book ranks the states according to how children are faring, presenting national and state data from 16 indicators in four domains — economic well-being, Utah ranked 2nd, education 6th, health 18th, and family and community factors 1st. Utah’s overall rank of second in the country reflects how Utah’s decision-makers and community partners have bolstered policies supporting child well-being.

VIEW 2023 KIDS COUNT BOOK

Published in News & Blog
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Utah’s family demographics have changed. 53% of Utah families have all available parents in the workforce, making child care a necessity. These days, most Utah families need two incomes to maintain financial stability. But Utah’s licensed child care system struggles to meet the demand. Licensed child care program capacity is only sufficient to serve about 36% of all children under six whose parents are working.

To provide a comprehensive picture of Utah's current child care crisis, this report produced by Voices for Utah Children examines the availability of licensed child care across the state, and in each individual county. By conducting a detailed analysis of both the demand and supply of child care services, the report aims to provide policymakers and the public with a clear understanding of the urgent need for child care reform.

Download a copy of the report here.

County-Level Data

Child Care Access Data Fact Sheets by County are also available on our Utah Care for Kids website. Look up child care access in your county today!

Look Up County

 

Statewide Data

Children Potentially in Need of Care

 
All Children Under 6 Years Old 289,240
Children Under 6 Years Potentially in Need of Care 154,229
 Rate of Children Under 6 with Potential Child Care Needs 53%

Licensed Child Care Programming

 
Home-based Child Care Programs 940 
Center-based Child Care Programs 427 
Total Licensed Slots 54,804 
Percent of Child Care Need Met 36%

Cost of Care for Families

 
Average Annual Cost Home-based Child Care for Infant/Toddler $8,267
Average Annual Cost Center-based Child Care for Infant/Toddler $11,232
Average Annual Cost Home-based Child Care for Preschool-Aged Child $7,311
Average Annual Cost Center-based Child Care for Preschool-Aged Child $8,487
Number of Children Eligible for Subsidies  81,805
Number of Children Receiving Subsidies  11,665
Rate of Eligible Children Receiving Subsidies 14%

Child Care Workforce Compensation

 
Median Hourly Wage for Child Care Professionals $12.87 
Median Annual Salary for Child Care Professionals $26,770 

 

Takeaways

There is insufficient licensed child care in Utah to meet the needs of working families.

There are more than 154,000 children under the age of six living in Utah with all available parents in the workforce. But, there are only 54,804 licensed child care spots in 1,367 programs statewide. Licensed child care program capacity is only sufficient to serve about 36% of all children under six whose parents are working. That means the working families of nearly two-thirds of Utah’s youngest children must rely on alternate arrangements (such as utilizing family members, hiring or sharing a nanny, alternating parent work schedules, using unlicensed child care providers, or some combination of these).

The high cost of child care makes it even less accessible to low- and middle-income families, and rural families struggle most.

Affordability remains a significant hurdle with child care costs often consuming a substantial portion of a family’s income. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable child care as care that costs no more than 7% of a family's income. In Utah, the average annual cost of care for two children under the age of six (one infant, one preschool-aged child is $16,890, taking up about 17% of family’s income. For a family in rural Grand County, the cost of that care is actually higher at $17,339, consuming 41% of their income. The lack of dramatic differences in child care prices from county to county is an illustration of how little flexibility providers have to reduce tuition costs for parents, even in areas of the state where family incomes clearly can’t keep up.

 How costs play out for a typical four-person family with one infant/toddler and one preschool-aged child

 
Median Four-Person Family Household Income $100,752
Average Annual Cost of Toddler/Infant Care $9,193
Average Annual Cost of Preschool-Aged Care $7,678
Considered "Affordable" Child Care for this Family  $7,053
Average Amount this Family Will Spend on Child Care $16,871
Percent of Income this Family Will Spend on Child Care 17%

Licensed child care is insufficient in every county in Utah, though the level of unmet need varies from place to place.

Summit County emerges as the county with the highest percentage of child care need met (54%), followed by Carbon, (48%) Sevier (45%), Grand (45%), Salt Lake (45%), and Iron Counties (41%). All other counties have less than 40% of child care need met with licensed program capacity, and multiple rural counties (Daggett, Piute, Rich, and Wayne) have no licensed child care available at all.

With substantial public investment, Utah’s child care system has grown 31% since the start of the COVID pandemic.

Through various federal funding streams, nearly $600 million has worked to grow Utah’s child care capacity from approximately 42,000 licensed slots in March 2020 to over 54,000 in August 2023. In contrast to many other states, Utah has managed to increase its licensed child care capacity - despite substantial pandemic disruptions - through stabilization grants paid directly to existing providers for wage supplementation, startup support for new programs, and a one-time worker bonus of $2,000 per child care professional. These financial investments both expanded the enrollment capacities of existing programs as well as recruited new providers into the sector. However, with the ending of this funding in October 2023, Utah risks jeopardizing this incredible progress.

Recommendations

1. Commit to Public Investment in Child Care

Utah’s child care crisis requires public investment. Funding is needed to bridge the gap between what families can afford and the true cost of care. While businesses can contribute, their capacity to address this crisis is limited. There is no sufficient source of investment to address child care’s market failure aside from public funding. Child care should be valued in the same ways as the public education system, ensuring equal access and opportunities for all children. Currently, the burden of expensive early education falls largely on Utah families, with minimal public support, even though most brain development occurs before age six.

2. Help Parents Afford the Care They Want

Utah’s current child care system doesn’t promote parent choice. Child care affordability and accessibility severely limit family choice when it comes to child care, forcing decisions based on cost or access, rather than preference. This also impacts family planning and career choices. Parents are forced to make difficult choices, such as changing jobs, adjusting school and work schedules, or choosing suboptimal child care situations. To address these issues, policymakers should consider improving the child care subsidy program, expanding the child tax credit, and finding ways to help alleviate the financial burden on Utah families.

3. Support the Critical Work of Child Care Professionals

Child care professionals face significant financial challenges. Low wages and a lack of benefits, including healthcare and retirement, have made the profession unsustainable, leading to high rates of turnover each year. Since Utah’s current child care system only meets 36% of the state's need, Utah must invest in the early child care profession to attract and retain a robust workforce. To support child care providers, policymakers should consider measures including state funding of Child Care Stabilization Grants, wage supplement programs, eliminating barriers to licensure, and increasing access to employment benefits.

For questions or inquiries regarding this report, please contact Voices staff members: 

Published in News & Blog

We know that Utah’s child care crisis is bad, and is going to get worse. New data helps illustrate exactly how bad the situation is, in each county across the state. 

Next week Voices for Utah Children will release a report titled, “Mapping Care for Kids: A County-Level Look at Utah’s Crisis in Licensed Child Care.” The report includes more detailed county-level analysis and data highlighting the inaccessibility of care and financial challenges faced by families and child care professionals. In addition, the report includes policy recommendations for Utah leaders to help resolve this crisis. 

The full report will be available the week of October 23rd, but as a teaser, this blog highlights some key findings from the report.

There is insufficient licensed child care in Utah to meet the needs of working families.

Licensed child care program capacity is only sufficient to serve about 36% of all children under six whose parents are working. Parents face shortages in every county statewide, with rural families struggling most.

The high cost of child care makes it even less accessible to low- and middle-income families, and rural families struggle most.

The average annual cost of care for two children under the age of six (one infant/toddler, one preschool-aged child) for a Utah family costs about 17% of a 4-person family’s income. Cost varies little between rural and urban counties, but on average household median incomes are lower in rural areas. In Grand County, with the state’s lowest median annual income at $42,654, the cost of care for a family of four would comprise about 41% of a family’s income.

Child care providers receive insufficient compensation, and have few incentives to stay in the field.

Child care providers typically earn low wages and very limited benefits. The median hourly wage for child care professionals in Utah is just $12.87 per hour ($26,770/year), less than they could make as professional dog walkers. The poverty rate among child care providers in Utah is 23.1%, more than 8 times higher than that of K-8 teachers. 

With substantial public investment, Utah’s licensed child care capacity has grown significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to federal funding streams totaling nearly $600 million, licensed child care capacity in Utah has grown by approximately 31% since March 2020. This growth is due primarily to child care stabilization grants made directly to licensed child care providers; those grants recently were reduced by 75%. Utah has been identified as one of six states that could see half or more of all licensed child care programs statewide close with the end of the stabilization grants.

Licensed child care is insufficient in every county in Utah, though the level of unmet need varies from place to place.

 

How does child care access and affordability compare in each county?
Statewide Beaver County
Box Elder County Cache County
Carbon County Daggett County
Davis County Duchesne County
Emery County  Garfield County
Grand County Iron County
Juab County Kane County
Millard County Morgan County
Piute County Rich County
Salt Lake County San Juan County
Sanpete County Sevier County
Summit County Tooele County
Uintah County Utah County
Wasatch County Washington County
Wayne County Weber County

  

Our full report, “Mapping Care for Kids: A County-Level Look at Utah’s Crisis in Licensed Child Care” will be released the week of October 23rd. For questions about the report, this blog, or sources and methodology, please contact Jenna Williams at . For more information on efforts to improve Utah’s child care system or learn about the child care advocacy network, visit utahchildren.org/issues/early-childhood-education and utahcareforkids.org.

Published in News & Blog

Child care certainly received its fair share of discussion this legislative session, but did anything really happen? The short answer is kinda. Here’s what happened.

Funding Requests

During the session, Voices for Utah Children teamed up with parents, child care professionals, and early childhood advocates to lobby the state legislature for more than $260 million to stabilize Utah’s child care system. This was, admittedly, a big ask. But the requests highlighted the reality of the child care sector’s needs. Many of the state funding requests aimed to replace expiring federal pandemic money that has been propping up the sector. This emergency federal funding will begin to end in June 2023 and will fully expire by June 2024. 

Child Care Stabilization Grants, Rep. Andrew Stoddard
Federal Child Care Stabilization Grants have been a lifeline for Utah's child care sector. Child care providers have indicated the lack of ongoing stabilization funding will result in one or more of the following three outcomes: child care programs will close, tuition will be raised for families, and/or employees will have lower wages. This funding would have allowed for a one-year extension of the stabilization grants currently received by hundreds of child care providers in Utah. 
Requested: $216 Million
Outcome: NOT FUNDED

Retention Incentives for Early Childhood Professionals, Sen. Luz Escamilla
In 2022, federal funding allowed Utah's Office of Child Care issued $2,000 bonuses to eligible workers serving in child care positions to provide recognition for their critical work throughout the COVID pandemic and to improve retention within the field. 9,368 child care professionals received retention incentives through this program. This funding request would have continued this incentive program for an additional two years while structural reforms were pursued. 
Requested: $38 Million
Outcome: NOT FUNDED

Regional Child Care Development Grants, Rep. Ashlee Matthews 
Through federal funding, Utah's six Regional Care about Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies supported new programs for rural outreach, small business training, start-up grants, and professional development. This funding would have continued these grants for another three years to continue programming that works to expand child care access and improve care in both rural and urban areas.
Requested: $2.1 Million
Outcome: NOT FUNDED

Child Care Licensing-Related Fees, Rep. Ashlee Matthews
With COVID-relief funding, the Office of Child Care Licensing has waived the fees associated with licensing in order to lessen the barriers to expanding, maintaining, and opening new child care programs. This funding would have extended this fee coverage for another three years as the state tackles the child care crisis. 
Requested: $3 Million
Outcome: NOT FUNDED

Child Care Solutions and Workforce Productivity Plan, Sen. Luz Escamilla
A priority of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity’s Women in the Economy  Subcommittee, these funds will support strategic planning for child care solutions.
Requested: $250,000
Outcome: $150,000

Legislation

HB 167: State Child Care, Rep. Ashlee Matthews & Sen. Luz Escamilla
This bill provides the framework for State agencies to convert empty state buildings to on-site child care. It will allow private providers to rent the space and operate from the facility, creating greater access to child care for employees and the greater community.
Outcome: PASSED

HB 170: Child Tax Credit Revisions, Rep. Susan Pulsipher & Sen. Daniel McCay
This bill provides a non-refundable yearly tax credit of $1,000 per child between the ages of 1-3 for families making up to $43,000 for single filers and $54,000 for households filing married jointly. Because the bill’s original intent was to help with the cost of child care, we’d like to see this expanded to help children ages 0-6, as it did in the original bill. This legislation makes Utah the 13th state with its very own state child tax credit.
Outcome: AMENDED VERSION PASSED 

HB 282: Child Care Sales Tax Exemption, Rep. Christine Watkins
This bill would have allowed for a sales and use tax exemption for construction materials used to construct or expand a child care program.
Outcome: BILL NEVER HEARD IN COMMITTEE

Advocacy

While our policy wins feel small, it was a stellar year for child care advocacy. We hosted our first Child Care Advocacy Day, where we welcomed over 100 parents, kiddos, providers, and supporters of child care in Utah’s Capitol Rotunda! The turnout far surpassed expectations and we hosted many new faces. We look forward to continuing to grow our network of child care advocates and working on solutions to child care during the interim. 

  

To learn more about child care advocacy in Utah, visit UtahCareforKids.org.

Published in News & Blog

To date, the state legislature’s minimal efforts to address Utah’s complex child care crisis are completely out of proportion to the scope of the problem

None of those efforts have offered much relief for Utah families with young children who are struggling with the rising cost of child care. They certainly don’t contemplate the urgency of the impending “federal funding cliff” that is about to push child care costs even further through the roof. 

Policy proposals that require a meaningful investment of state dollars - and pretty much all the effective ones will - have been ignored by elected officials. 

Before the session ends on March 3rd, however, the legislature has a chance to pass legislation that would actually provide financial relief for some families with young children. 

Yes, it will require state investment - but the one kind of investment that legislators seem most enthusiastic about: a tax cut!

Well, a tax CREDIT, which is sort of like a tax cut for the Utahns who qualify. 

Representative Susan Pulsipher (R-South Jordan) has introduced a narrowly-tailored Child Tax Credit, which would allow families to claim up to an extra $1,000 per child each year, to help cover a small portion of the staggering costs of caring for a child. Families that make more money can claim a smaller amount, on a sliding scale. 

The bill is House Bill 170: Child Tax Credit Amendments (originally named "Child Care Tax Credit Amendments). It has only recently moved forward in the legislative process, after its initial introduction in mid-January. With just a couple of weeks left in the session, there is still a chance that this tax credit - with a price tag of less than $41 million - could be included in whatever tax package the legislature inevitably passes. 

Rep. Pulsipher’s goal is to help families who still struggle to afford the costs of raising young children. 

The money they save with this tax credit can be used by families in any way that works for them. If a parent stays home, it can help cushion the financial burden of having a one-income household. If both parents work, it can be used to cover the costs of child care while they are working. 

There are a few catches, though:

  • This $1,000 tax credit can only be claimed for children who are under the age of six at the time you file your taxes. Child care costs go way down for a family once a child is enrolled in school. 
  • In order to be eligible, your household must meet certain household income requirements (for example, a household with a joint filing status must be less than $54,000 to quality for the full amount of the credit).
  • If your family makes more than a certain amount of money, you can still claim this tax credit, but it is phased out based on your household income. 
  • If you don’t end up owing any income taxes when all the math is said and done, you won’t get a check in the mail from the state for each child. This tax credit would be “non-refundable.” That means the tax credit can only be used to put a dent in the income taxes you owe; it can’t put extra money in your pocket if your income taxes calculate down to zero. 
  • You won’t be able to claim the tax credit THIS YEAR. Or even next year. It would go into effect when you file your 2024 taxes in 2025. 

Even with these strict parameters, we think having a Child Tax Credit available for some Utah families is a great step toward grappling with our state’s child care problems in a meaningful way. 

HB170 offers legislators an opportunity to show they are willing to invest in families with young children in the face of a crisis that is about to get a lot worse. We hope they take it!

Write to your legislators about HB170 “Child Tax Credit Amendments!”

Published in News & Blog
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