The General Assembly’s Joint Audit and Evaluation Committee was presented with recommendations to improve the State’s child care landscape.
The General Assembly’s Joint Audit and Evaluation Committee met on October 16 to review various topics, including Maryland’s child care industry. Relevant state agencies and professional staff from the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) presented to the Committee and offered recommendations for the General Assembly’s consideration before the 2024 legislative session.
The child care industry has existing significant issues with seemingly more complex solutions. Experts are calling the increasingly tumultuous situation the “child care cliff.” Maryland’s case proves no different, with the combined forces of the COVID-19 pandemic and disappearing ARPA support, the Blueprint’s siphoning of private providers from child care to pre-K, and some of the highest industry costs in the country.
The Joint Audit and Evaluation Committee’s October 16 hearing considered these factors and potential solutions to address the ongoing challenges. Important context presented by DLS included the increase in the need for child care with the simultaneous decrease in providers throughout Maryland. According to DLS data, 17 of Maryland’s 24 counties have lost child care slots as operating private providers decreased. Overall, however, the number of private slots has increased statewide.
DLS’ reporting reflects the general concerns many county governments have expressed based on what they see locally. DLS also presented several concerns about pre-K expansion under the Blueprint for Marlyand’s Future (“The Blueprint”) that mirror those counties have expressed.
Recommendations for recovery
As part of its presentation, DLS provided the Committee with several recommendations that support the child care industry and may help improve Maryland’s child care outlook. Those recommendations include:
- Requiring the Maryland State Department of Education to report on the sufficiency of personnel structure;
- Creating an accreditation pathway for Family Child Care providers;
- Updating the General Assembly on redesigned EXCELS standards and rating scales; and
- By 2030, evaluate the impact on long-term childhood development.
MACo and counties have strived to support the child care industry and to address concerns as pre-K expansion ramps up under the Blueprint. Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more on this issue and how it is addressed during the 2024 legislative session.