Congress is sending families less help for day care costs. So states are stepping in

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Across the country, the story for families is virtually the same: Child care is unaffordable for many, hard to find for those who can pay, and financially precarious for day care operators and their employees.

The Biden administration and Congress tried to alleviate some of these problems when the pandemic crippled the child care industry. But as the record $52.5 billion in relief winds down, many states have stepped in with their own solutions.

States have expanded free preschool and early education and helped more families pay for child care, making it low-cost or even free for many. Recognizing that a federal solution is unlikely to materialize anytime soon, policymakers have come up with novel ways to pay for their plans, creating permanent funding sources that will make new programs sustainable.

New Mexico, for instance, has tapped into its petroleum revenue, Washington state put a new tax on investment profits, and Kentucky is incentivizing parents to become child care workers.

And while the largest investments in child care have come from Democrats, Republican state lawmakers across the country are embracing plans to support child care — citing the importance to the economy.

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