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Bill to expand child care options in Utah moves forward to Senate

Feb 13, 2024, 4:21 PM

kids play at a child care center in utah...

Preschool students play a game at A to Z Building Blocks in Orem on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new bill that would offer more affordable child care services in Utah passed out of a state Senate committee on Tuesday and one step closer to becoming a law.

The bill, SB176, would expand the state’s affordable child care by turning existing state-owned buildings into high-quality child care facilities partnered with a sponsor who would hire childcare employees.

Such a facility would have to designate 60% of its seats for the children of employees from the sponsoring business. The remaining 40% of its seats would be for children from low-income, state-employed, or military families.

Bill sponsor Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, said the proposal already has a lot of support. 

“This bill was supported by the Women in the Economy Subcommittee and supported by the Economic Opportunity Commission that is chaired by the governor, the speaker, and the president of the Senate.”

Escamilla said this bill would help reduce child care deserts in the state

“More than 70% of our population live in child care deserts. Meaning they have no access to any child care within a 5-mile radius of where they live or work.”

The bill received a favorable recommendation in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and will move on to the Senate floor.

If signed into law, this bill would take effect on May 1.

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Bill to expand child care options in Utah moves forward to Senate