WASHINGTON — With the city in the midst of a baby boom and with the cost of child care rivaling the cost of college tuition, D.C. leaders are touting plans to make day care more affordable and more accessible.
Leaders say the solution starts with addressing a shortage of child care facilities. Speaking at a child care center in Northwest, Mayor Muriel Bowser said her budget proposal, which includes $15 million in child care spending, would create 1,300 new slots for infants and toddlers.
She said the spending would “incentivize the expansion of providers” and also draw more day care providers into the market.
Most of the money would be used as grants for child care facilities, according to Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles.
Bowser said she hopes “that prices act the way they normally do when there’s more supply — that it can level out the cost.”
The leaders also announced plans to offer help navigating legal and regulatory issues for those looking to start or expand child care centers.
In 2015, there were about 7,600 slots at licensed care providers for 22,000 children under the age of 3 in D.C., according to a report published by the group DC Appleseed. The group Child Care Aware said the annual cost of center-based child care in the District tops $26,000 a year.
“We have about 1,000 births annually in the District, and we know that right now we are not meeting the needs and the demands,” says HyeSook Chung, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human. She adds that the influx of millennials to the city in recent years is having an impact.
“We’re experiencing this incredible growth of families with young children staying in D.C.,” she said.