The Bulletin Board

NH would see $31 million more for child care under Biden’s request to Congress

By: - November 2, 2023 3:47 pm

The state has spent most of the more than $100 million for child care support it received during the pandemic. (Annmarie Timmins | New Hampshire Bulletin)

The Biden administration’s request to Congress for $16 billion in new child care funding would bring New Hampshire $31 million, according to a White House announcement Thursday. The money would benefit an estimated 320 providers and 29,700 children, the White House’s communication office said.

“This directly relates to the biggest issue that families face today and that is the high cost of living,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut during a press briefing. “The child care industry was in crisis before we had a global pandemic.”

DeLauro added: “Nobody is talking about bells whistles and frills here. This is to try to get the industry back on its feet. And child care is an industry.”

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services could not be immediately reached Thursday to comment on whether it requested the $31 million.

The fate of the Biden administration’s $16 billion funding request is far from certain as Congress takes up competing emergency requests for aid to Israel and Ukraine.

“We just need to fight back and talk about the necessity for domestic investments as well as foreign assistance,” DeLauro said. “We have challenges at home. Families are at risk. I’m not a Pollyanna. I know how tough it is. … We need to have willing partners, and if they’re not willing … there needs to be pressure to make them willing.”

The state has spent most of the more than $100 million for child care support it received during the pandemic. The state budget signed in June contains $15 million for worker recruitment and retention, and money to expand tuition assistance for families.

It was an unprecedented investment in a child care system that was in trouble before the pandemic, but child care leaders have said it’s not enough to overcome a shortage that predated the pandemic.

In 2020, the state’s 33,000 licensed child care spots for children under 6 met only 60 percent of the need, according to a study commissioned by the state Department of Health and Human Services. 

That gap grew during the pandemic, as workers became harder to find, often because they could earn more money elsewhere – the average wage is about $12 an hour – or couldn’t find care for their own children.

Jennifer Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council, said Thursday the details of how the money can be used have not been decided. But she said the White House intends it to be a continuation of the child care stabilization money states received during the pandemic. 

Under the $16 billion plan, Maine would receive $46 million, while Vermont would see $15 million, according to numbers provided by the White House. Massachusetts would get $214 million.

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. Email: [email protected]