On March 3, councilmembers Gabe Albornoz and Nancy Navarro proposed legislation to provide grants to local businesses to help offset the cost of childcare. The proposal creates the Local Business Child Care Grant Program in the hopes of expanding access to quality child care in Montgomery County.
The bill would provide local businesses with the opportunity to apply for grants to offset the cost of childcare contributions. Local businesses with 50 employees or less could apply for grants which would match up to 50% of the child care contributions the business gives to employees.
Funds would come from the County’s Economic Development Fund, which works to support local business and stimulate the economy by providing grants to new and local businesses.
By providing opportunities to apply for grants, businesses will be able to better attract and retain professionals who will provide significant contributions to the local economy.
Lack of affordable child care is a concern that affects families financially but also prevents workforce expansion.
Beyond concern over accessibility of quality child care that fosters growth, child care is simply too expensive. The average Montgomery County family with a child above four years old will pay between $13,000 to $19,000 annually for childcare. For families with children who are under four, child care ranges from $25,000 to $33,000 a year.
As a result, families struggle to find childcare that they can afford that can provide adequate care for their children. Almost 50% of working parents in Maryland had short-term disruption in their employment due to problems in securing childcare, according to the Maryland Family Network.
Companies that work to ensure their employees have access to quality child care see an increase in workforce participation, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. This increased participation leads to increased profits and billions of dollars a year in generated revenue.
“These investments are key to foster economic development, alleviate stress for working families and ensure business success across our county and region,” Councilmember Gabe Albornoz said at a press conference on the subject.
Beyond providing relief for working families, this issue enters into the educational realm as well, Councilmember Nancy Navarro said. A lack of quality child care constitutes a lack of early-childhood education.
Providing grants to businesses not only helps the local economy, but the community’s children get a leg up on their educational careers.
“By investing in our children, we are making a commitment to the success of our country and our county,” Navarro said at the press conference on the bill.