Riemer Introduces Bill To Create County Office of Child Care
The office would be responsible for creating strategies to implement a comprehensive child care program that would include a plan for universal pre-kindergarten and child care and developing public-private partnerships among businesses, Montgomery County Public Schools and county government, according to a county news release.
The bill seeks to create an innovative approach to child care programming focused by promoting coordination and collaboration among county agencies and department and public-private partners to expand countywide child care opportunities. The bill would require the development of a plan for countywide universal child care and preschool programs to improve readiness for children entering kindergarten. The Office of Child Care also would be charged with administering the selection of providers in public space, including Montgomery County Public Schools’ space, to the extent allowed by state law.
“As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, universal access to affordable, quality child care is a ‘must-have’ in a modern economy,” Riemer said. “Unfortunately, Montgomery County has been losing ground on this issue. The average family in the County already spends 22 percent of their income on child care and costs are rising by as much as 14 percent per year. While there is no magic bullet to solve this problem, an Office of Child Care would allow us to understand the problem, plan strategically, implement new programs, and develop partnerships with agencies, businesses and parents to meet our goals.”
A rising number of families in the county are struggling to find affordable, high-quality child care, according to the news release. In January 2015, the Maryland Department of Education, Division of Early Childhood Development reported that there are 477 licensed child care centers and 948 registered family care homes in the county with a capacity to serve 39,994 children. Census data shows that there are more than 64,852 children below the age of five in the county.
The Maryland Community Action Partnership in 2012 reported that the family self-sufficiency standard in Montgomery County for two adults and one preschooler is nearly $83,000 annually, according to the release. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that parents spend 10 percent or less of their family income on child care. County residents with children, on average, spend 22 percent of their income on child care. The costs for child care in the County ranges between 32 and 40 percent more than the Maryland average. Moreover, it is predicted that these costs will increase by nine to 14 percent through 2018, according to the release.
The Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Bill 13-15 on March 31 at 7:30 p.m. in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Building. Individuals wishing to testify can sign up by calling 240.777.7803.