June 1, 2022
Thanks to your advocacy, sharing your experiences, and showing up in lots of ways, legislators were moved to more action this year and many of those ideas became bills introduced at the start of this year’s legislative session.
In between the introduction of a bill and the end of session, a bill’s language can change many times. That was certainly the case for the child care package, too! After passage by both the House and Senate, the Governor has the opportunity to sign, veto, or let a bill become law without signature. That work is now complete. Here’s a look at how things landed for key pieces of the child care package. We look forward to talking about all of this at our next Joining Voices meeting on June 30!
HB 89/SB 480: Child Care Stabilization Act
Signed into law on April 21
This was passed as an emergency measure, and so takes effect right away. It is for both the current fiscal year (FY22) and next fiscal year (FY23). MSDE will administer these grants to child care providers. The bill does not indicate amounts per applicant/provider, but does call for priorities among applicants, leading with including providers with a demonstrated financial hardship that puts the child care business at risk of closure. It also considers those who have not received a stabilization grant previously; those in the child care scholarship/subsidy program; those located in areas designated by MSDE as lacking child care clots; those serving primarily low-income families, children with special needs, and infants and toddlers.
HB 993/SB 919: Child Care Capital Support Revolving Loan Fund – Established
Signed into law on May 16
This bill creates a revolving loan fund so that providers in centers and family child care that enroll families paying with scholarship can make necessary and often costly changes to their physical spaces. The idea is that the recipient of the loan would have five years to repay it (though additional time could be granted if there is financial hardship). The recipient of the loan would not pay interest on the loan. The Maryland State Department of Commerce is to administer the program with support from the Department of Education. The Department of Commerce would establish application procedures and eligibility criteria. The bill text calls for a specific priority order of eligibility:
- Child care providers that are located in underserved communities or in areas designated by the Department to be lacking child care slots
- Child care providers that are located in rural communities
- Child care providers that serve primarily low-income families in areas of high poverty
- Child care providers that serve children with special needs
- Child care providers that enroll infants and toddlers
The bill calls for $15 million in the first year and $10 million in the second year. The bill does not specify the loan amounts that a provider could receive.
HB 995/SB 920: Early Childhood Development – Child Care Scholarship Program – Alterations
Became law without signature on May 27
This bill addresses a variety of concerns that both parents and providers experience about the scholarship program. The bill establishes a process for presumptive eligibility for families accessing child care scholarship meaning they can start work activities right away knowing they can enroll in child care and the provider can expect scholarship payment. The bill establishes copay relief for some families experiencing challenges. The bill ends pursuit of child support enforcement to qualify for child care scholarship! The bill calls for more responsive payment timelines: MSDE will have 10 dates to notify the Comptroller when they receive an invoice from a provider; the Comptroller then is to pay the provider within 5 days.
HB 1100/SB 806: Child Care Providers and Employees – Bonuses
The child care crisis has within it a staffing crisis that very much is about compensation. One state policy step is making possible “hiring bonuses” like we see in other industries. This bill calls for $16 million to be used in three ways:
- Retention bonuses: $10 million is to award up to $1,000 retention bonuses to each individual who is employed on June 30, 2022 for at least 20 hours per week and holds a Maryland Child Care Credential or who earns the credential during FY2023.
- Recruitment bonuses: $4 million is to award up to $1000 to a new hire: $500 to an individual who begins employment as a child care provider or for a child care provider that participates in the child care scholarship/subsidy program for at least 20 hours a week for 3 months and commits to remaining for at least 6 months; and another $500 to the individual if they earn the Maryland Child Care Credential during FY23.
- Onboarding costs: $2 million would be used to help providers with the costs of seeking and onboarding new staff: $500 per new hire (in FY23, to work for at least 30 hours a week for at least 3 months) that could be used for advertising, licensure or certification, background checks, or even toward the first month of salary.
The program will run for from July 1, 2022, until December 31, 2023.
Note: We believe that family care providers could benefit from the retention bonus if they have or earn the Maryland State Child Care Credential; we believe that a new family child care provider could earn a recruitment bonus if they are a part of the subsidy program; we believe that family child care providers could also use the recruitment bonuses if they seek an assistant; and could also seek funds to search and onboard an assistant. The bill does not specify setting type for involvement in the bonus strategy; the program will be set up by MSDE.
Please review this end of session report from our friends at Maryland Family Network for a look at the state budget and other big decisions made in Annapolis during the legislative session: https://www.marylandfamilynetwork.org/for-advocates/accomplishments
We look forward to seeing you at our next Joining Voices meeting on June 30, where we will review the actions of the legislature and reflect together on what they mean for you, for your families, and for all of Prince George’s. Please register: https://bit.ly/3tcq2Ew. We will spend time in small groups and all together considering questions like:
- Did you feel heard this session – as they wrote legislation and passed legislation? Why or why not
- What are the ways the stabilization grants and revolving loan funds, now signed in to law, will meet the needs of our community?
- How can we better help each other as advocates?