November 30, 2023

2024 Child Care Legislation

Supporting families with young children remains a top policy priority of Voices for Utah Children, leading into the 2024 session. Central to our advocacy efforts is addressing the critical child care needs of these families.

We are working closely with several legislators to propose much-needed public investment in the child care sector. We will also be supporting multiple early care and education bills being championed by other legislators and organizations. Here’s the rundown:

Child Care Priorities

HB 461: Child Care Wage Stabilization Amendments, Rep. Ashlee Matthews
Child care providers, who on average make less than dog walkers, face substantial financial hurdles with low wages and minimal benefits, resulting in high turnover rates. This bill would expand access to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP or child care subsidies) for individuals working in the child care sector. Modeled after Kentucky's successful retention effort, this would allow child care program employees to qualify for child care subsidies regardless of income, if federal funding allows. As many providers enter the field because of child care needs, this helps child care owners cover the costs of providing a child care benefit, and helps providers keep more of their paycheck. This bill originally included a provision creating the Child Care Workers Wage Supplement Grant Program, to help child care providers maintain a $15/hour wage for their staff, once stabilization grants end. However, this was removed through an amendment. The amended version of the bill passed unanimously through the House Business and Labor Committee on 2/20/24.
Position: SUPPORT

HB 541: Child Care Grants Amendments, Rep. Andrew Stoddard
Utah currently faces a Federal Child Care Funding Cliff and stands to lose over $400M in expiring federal funds allocated for the child care sector. This bill proposes extending Utah’s current child care stabilization grant program, funded at 50% of the original grant size, for another two years as an emergency stopgap measure. The proposal aims to safeguard some of the recent progress made in expanding child care program accessibility statewide, and directs funding toward improving wages and benefits for child care professionals. This funding request was heard in the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee on 1/29/24.
Position: SUPPORT

HB 153 S02: Child Care Revisions, Rep. Susan Pulsipher
Originally, this bill sought to expand Utah’s new and very limited Child Tax Credit to allow families to claim a tax benefit for any child aged one to five. Unfortunately, HB 153 has been hijacked and the adopted second substitute includes a dangerous provision that would increase the number of children an unlicensed provider could watch, for pay, in their home, without requiring safety training or home inspections. While we support the original bill, we oppose these licensing changes that move to lower child care quality standards in our state. (More information on why we oppose here.This bill passed with a vote 6-4 through the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on 2/13/24.
Position: OPPOSE

Other Child Care Legislation

SB 220: School Readiness Grant Program Modernization, Sen. Ann Millner
This bill will streamline and improve the state’s current High Quality School Readiness (HQSR) program, the state's high-quality preschool programs targeted at students who are economically disadvantaged, English language learners, or in foster care. The program serves hundreds of Utah children each year through public schools and private child care centers. Promise Partnership Utah, our partner organization, is leading out on this bill. This bill passed unanimously through the Senate Education Committee on 2/14/24, and unanimously through the Senate on 2/21/24.
Position: SUPPORT

School Readiness Grant Program Funding, Rep. Katy Hall
This bill includes a $6M ongoing funding request for the School Readiness Program. Demand for the program is higher than funds allow. In 2020, the legislature added an additional $6M to the program that was supplanted with federal funds during a special session in case the pandemic impacted state budgets. This request would put the $6M of state funds back into the program. Promise Partnership Utah, our partner organization, is leading out on this bill. This funding request was heard in the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee on 2/2/24.
Position: SUPPORT

SB 176 S01: Child Care Services Amendments, Sen. Luz Escamilla
This bill would allow for the conversion of empty state office buildings into child care centers that work with local employers. The bill attempts to make child care more affordable and accessible, through a collaboration between private businesses, public agencies, and private child care providers. The bill will fund a pilot program retrofitting 1-6 state office buildings in Salt Lake County. This bill passed unanimously through the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on 2/13/24, and unanimously through the Senate on 2/20/24.
Position: SUPPORT

HB 96: Child Care Program Sales Tax Exemption, Rep. Christine Watkins
This bill will allow for a sales and use tax exemption for construction materials used to construct or expand a child care program.
Position: SUPPORT

This blog post will be updated as we learn of new child care-related legislation. Last updated: 2/22/24

Tell your legislators that it's time to advocate to include public investment in early learning and care in Utah's state budget priorities! 

Write to your elected officials here