DC mayor proposes $15M fix for child care shortage amid baby boom

WASHINGTON — In the midst of a baby boom, D.C. is facing a severe shortage of licensed child-care providers for infants and toddlers. Now, Mayor Muriel Bowser is offering a possible fix.

In her 2018 budget, Bowser is offering $15 million to help address the shortage. The Washington Post reports that under the mayor’s proposal, competitive grants would be offered to help high-quality child care providers to expand or even open up new child care centers.

It is estimated that the measure could add about 1,300 new slots for infants and toddlers. That is an increase of about 20 percent. For parents, the plan would provide an expanded online portal to help them find quality child care.

The plan would also make space available in three city-owned or leased buildings for child care facilities. Providers would be able to apply for space in those facilities. But it is not clear whether they would pay a fee to use these facilities or if they would use them for free.

This idea to use government-owned buildings is modeled after a successful program by the federal government where child care centers are located inside federal buildings. The independently operated child-care centers in the federal government buildings make it easier for workers to drop off their kids because they are located in the same building where the employees work.

D.C.’s Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles told the Post that parents in the city have been complaining about the shortage. And the child care that is available is not in areas where parents need it.

This plan would be begin to address the short supply of care, but it does not include subsidies for child care. The subsides help low income families pay for child care.

The plan would also fund the cost of two city employees who would streamline the regulatory process so child care providers would have an easier time either opening up a facility in the city or expanding an existing business in the city.

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