There is a concerning lack of childcare across Indiana. We don’t even rank close to the top half of the country when it comes to access, cost or quality.(1) High demand for childcare, exacerbated by the pandemic, is pushing prices to levels that an average Hoosier household cannot afford. Childcare workers are also quitting and finding higher paying jobs at alarming rates.
We must demand justice for Hoosier families by working to adequately expand and fund childcare services. Every Hoosier county should have access to affordable, quality care. We must also ensure these essential workers are staying in these positions by offering them safe conditions where they receive fair compensation.
When childcare is inaccessible, parents are forced to make tough decisions. Indiana’s limited childcare options has resulted in more families looking for ways to cut costs — one popular solution is for parents to stay home with children rather than break the bank for essential early learning and care services. COVID has only worsened the situation.
Many daycare centers have closed or had to decrease the number of spots in their facilities due to safety concerns. Parents are scrambling to find safe, affordable places to send their children as they struggle to maintain or access well-paying jobs after a year of economic turbulence.(2)
Adequate childcare would help both our Hoosier parents and the economy. It is estimated that Indiana loses 1.1 billion dollars a year because Hoosiers are forced to stay home instead of work in order to avoid paying thousands of dollars for childcare.(3)
Our caucus will be offering legislation to study our state’s childcare options and see how federal funding is being used to invest in Hoosier families who want progress on this issue. State Senator Shelli Yoder of District 40 has proposed Senate Bill 160, which requires the Division of Family Resources to identify childcare deserts in the state and to submit an annual report on the effect federal funding has had.(4) Indiana was allocated $337.8 million in the American Rescue Plan for expanded childcare grant assistance for Hoosier families and an additional $540.2 million for childcare providers.(5) It is critical that those funds are being properly invested to address the childcare deserts throughout Indiana. Stable childcare is essential to any working Hoosier family and we will continue looking for solutions in our state as well as calling on our Governor to make investing in expanded Pre-K options a priority for Indiana.