Utah lawmaker pushing legislation to address child care shortage

Feb 15, 2024, 9:00 AM

Child care provider Holly Kingston gives children a snack at her home in West Jordan on Friday, Jan...

Child care provider Holly Kingston gives children a snack at her home in West Jordan on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY—A Utah House committee has voted to advance a bill that could open up more spots for parents who need child care options for their kids.

Rep. Susan Pulsipher, R-South Jordan, is sponsoring HB153. If passed and signed into law, the bill would allow unlicensed childcare providers to watch eight kids. Right now the current legal limit is six kids. 

The bill would also require unlicensed providers to undergo background checks, and it would expand a child tax credit for parents.

Pulsipher told KSL NewsRadio that, based on research she’s seen, parents need more childcare options that fit their needs.

“Families want and need … a variety of childcare options,” Pulsipher said. “Some people would like to have a care center … some would like in-home childcare.”

This bill now heads to the full Utah House for a vote.

More child care has been a Utah legislative priority

This isn’t the only effort from lawmakers to help parents find childcare. Utah Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, is sponsoring legislation that seeks to turn more state-owned buildings into licensed daycare facilities.

According to an October 2023 report by ‘Voices for Utah Children,’ the childcare landscape in Utah has become a huge problem.

According to the report, there are more than 154,000 kids under the age of six in Utah presumed to need childcare. However, Utah only has enough daycare spots to take in 36% of them.

For the parents who have found care, the cost isn’t making things any easier on them. The report said on average, a family with two kids under age six is paying nearly $17,000 a year for daycare.

That eats up about 17% of their annual budget, more than double what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists as affordable.

The annual cost breaks down to about $1,400 a month.

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Utah lawmaker pushing legislation to address child care shortage