The Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy today submitted testimony to the House Finance Committee in favor of House Bill 370 to support the appropriation of $15 million in the two-year state budget to boost investment in the child care scholarship program.
The committee met to consider the bi-partisan bill for the first time since its introduction this session, hearing from advocates, child care experts, and business leaders on the importance of quality, affordable child care.
"Those of us concerned about New Hampshire's economy can't ignore the fact that caregiving responsibilities are driving people who want to work out of our workforce." said Amanda Sears, Director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy. "The future of our state depends on New Hampshire being an attractive place to live, work and raise a family—continued access to affordable child care is a key component of building a bright economic future for New Hampshire."
HB 370 would ensure adequate funds are included in the state's two-year budget in order to meet new federal regulations and allow the state to continue to qualify for Federal Child Care and Development Block Grant funds. Early learning environments are critical to brain development for young children, but quality child care is out of reach for the average family in New Hampshire, costing more than rent and taking up roughly a third of family budget expenses – forcing too many parents out of the workforce to care for their children.
"I often say child care makes the world go round," said Marti Ilg, Executive Director of Lakes Region Child Care Services in testimony provided to the Committee. "That's a positive way to frame the fact that child care holds up our economy. We support today's workforce, while developing the workforce of tomorrow."
The Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy is also advocating on behalf of establishing a family and medical leave insurance program in New Hampshire. The House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee will convene on Wednesday, February 1 at 2pm, in order to consider House Bill 628, which would create an employee-funded family and medical leave insurance program.