This week the California Chamber of Commerce joined a bipartisan group of legislators, labor and child advocacy organizations to voice strong support for legislation to maintain the availability of child care to the state’s workers.
AB 1649 (Quirk-Silva; D-Fullerton) preserves access to quality, stable child care for working families.
Speaking in support of AB 1649 at the May 17 press conference on the State Capitol steps, CalChamber Policy Advocate Ashley Hoffman noted that the employer community recognizes the importance of a robust child care system to help working families.
Other statewide and regional business organizations also supporting AB 1649 include the California Hotel and Lodging Association, the California Retailers Association, the California Grocers Association, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)-California, the United Chamber Advocacy Network and the Orange County Business Council.
“We all want California’s economy to recover and come back strong, but we can’t do that without fair and equal access to quality child care,” Hoffman said. “Without AB 1649, many workers will have no choice but to leave the workforce. We cannot let that happen. California’s employers and our economy need more workers, not fewer.”
The COVID-19 pandemic caused hundreds of thousands of child care slots to disappear in California, Hoffman pointed out, resulting in many workers being forced to leave the workforce. Women left at a rate four times greater than men.
Even before COVID-19, the high cost of child care acted as a barrier to many parents being able to work, she said.
AB 1649 continues a policy put in place by the Governor’s Executive Order N-45-20 that ensures subsidized child care providers are paid a guaranteed rate for their services, enabling them to provide care for families with variable work schedules and be reimbursed based on the certified number of hours needed, not the number of hours of care provided.
That policy allows the subsidized child care centers to operate like private market counterparts where a family pays for their child’s slot regardless of attendance.
Without legislative action, the policy is set to expire June 30, resulting in subsidized care providers being required to absorb a revenue shortfall for any days a child is absent. The financial risk would be significant, considering providers’ ongoing costs for rent, staff and operating expenses.
Hoffman commented that California employers are doing their best to help increase investment in workers’ child care needs and be flexible where possible, but it is a significant cost, especially for the smallest businesses.
A study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that smaller employers do not have the funds or resources to cover these costs.
AB 1649 will help address the systemic issue of child care affordability in California, she said. Without AB 1649, many workers will once again be left with few to no choices for child care, forcing adults — primarily women of color — back out of the workforce.
Investments in California’s child care system will benefit families, the business community and the economy as a whole.
AB 1649 was held on the Assembly Appropriations Committee Suspense File on May 19.