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Proposed Changes to the Child Daycare Code and Child Care Expansion in Moscow

MOSCOW – Proposed Day Care Code Amendments were presented to Moscow City Council on Monday, July 18th. The Day Care Code Amendments that were presented as part of a review process that began in 2019 working with daycare providers to review the City’s daycare regulations to assess if any modifications could be made to increase daycare capacity and access.

In general, Moscow’s Day Care Code is stricter than the State of Idaho’s Day Care Code, and many of the amendments discussed were moving Moscow’s code to closer resemble the State Code. Some of the amendments would include increasing the ratio of the number of children per provider to allow for more children to be admitted.

Current Code and Proposed Changes are available to view here. Some of the suggested amendments were increasing the ratios and points system to increase the number of children per child care provider. City Council heard from daycare providers, parents, and concerned community members during the period for public comment.

Dulce Kersting-Lark spoke during the public comment period and shared that the child care gap in Moscow is too large for these amendments to adequately address the shortage of infant care and child care available in Moscow. She believes that the issue is too large for these changes to solve the problem. 

The childcare gap in Moscow, Idaho, according to childcaregap.org, a bipartisan policy group, is 290— 290 children who potentially need childcare in Moscow, Idaho. The same policy group also estimates potential revenue loss, looking at household income loss, business productivity loss, and tax revenue impact. The potential immediate annual revenue loss for Moscow is estimated at $5.2 million on the lower end and $8.2 million on the higher end.

The long-term revenue loss for Moscow due to the childcare gap is estimated at $13.3 million on the lower end and $20.3 million on the higher end. Another community member shared that Idaho is only 1 in 4 states that do not provide publicly funded early care for early childhood. This report from the US Government Accountability Office confirms that officials from four states—Idaho, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming—reported that they had no state preschool program.

The Idaho Chamber Alliance’s legislative priorities are to support education and childcare policies that will strengthen our workforce by supporting on-site or co-op childcare options at businesses to facilitate the return of Idahoans in caretaking positions to the workforce, supporting opportunities to expand early-childhood education, and advocating for continuous improvement for teachers.

 Earlier this year, Governor Little, had recommended to the Idaho Legislature that $50 Million dollars of federal ARPA funds should be dispersed by the Workforce Development Council to expand child care in the state and provide Child Care Expansion Grants. That initial figure of $50 million was reduced to $15 million during this past legislative session.

From Idaho’s Workforce Development Council on Child Care Expansion in the state of Idaho: “Child care is one of the most critical work supports for parents to successfully participate in the labor market. Since the pandemic, labor force participation rates in Idaho have decreased and one of the major factors is the lack of childcare options. According to Idaho’s most recent Child Care Gap Assessment 74,670 children have the potential need for child care, and there are only 55,850 child care slots.”

The First Round of Child Care Expansion Grant Applications are due by August 1, 2022, but one of the Child Care Expansion Grant eligibility requirements is that the entity must comply with local and state child care licensing requirements. In a state that does not provide state-funded child care, it’s crucial that our local daycare centers are able to meet eligibility requirements to apply for grants through either Workforce Development Council or through the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare.