Indiana state senator to propose bill studying federal funding’s impact on child care

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

INDIANAPOLIS – A state senator from Bloomington wants Indiana to take a closer look at the impact of federal funding on the state’s child care system.

Many Hoosier families say they’re struggling to find affordable child care.

“My experience looking for child care has been a little bit difficult,” said Makaila McKinstry, who has two young kids and two jobs.

McKinstry said she has tried to find child care in the Fishers area, but all the facilities she has reached out to are full. So she has to keep her kids at home.

“My main job requires me to be on the phone for at least X amount of hours,” McKinstry said. “So it does get a little bit difficult, especially when you have little ones and they’re running around.”

And even if she should could find a spot for her kids, McKinstry said it would be expensive.

Experts say child care closures earlier in the pandemic and staffing shortages are having an ongoing impact.

“This is an industry with very thin margins, and so the pandemic and all of the fallout that has continued to this day has created real challenges,” said Maureen Weber, president and CEO of Early Learning Indiana.

The Hoosier State has received more than $1 billion dollars in federal funding since the pandemic began, Weber said. 

Weber said she supports a proposal being made by State Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) that calls on the state to study the impact of those federal funds on indiana’s child care system.

“We know that there are child care deserts in Indiana,” Yoder said. “We need to be able to see the impact of those dollars on the long-term success of young Hoosiers.”

Child care access is an issue both Democrats and Republicans at the Statehouse say they’d like to focus on this session.

State Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute), who has been an advocate for pre-K programs, said he believes lawmakers need to take action.

“I’m always open to listening to good ideas and what we can do to solve it because like I said all across the state, every type of business, child care is an issue,” Ford said.

Just last week, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce called on state lawmakers to help improve access to child care, saying it’s one of the biggest factors right now keeping some Hoosiers out of the workforce.

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