A Child Care Tax Credit to Help Working Parents and Businesses

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

With Alabamans missing work for child care purposes at a higher percentage than any other state, House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels proposed legislation to support providers through tax credits and incentives. His bill would allow each provider to receive a credit of up to $1 million with a total cap of $15 million, while each facility would be eligible for a credit of up to $25,000 with a total available credit of $5 million. The funds can be used for building an on-site facility, partnering with local facilities, or providing a stipend for employee childcare expenses.


Under the bill, the child care tax credit program is authorized for a four-year period, helping hardworking families in a state where child care issues kept nearly 20 percent of employed Alabamans from going to work in 2021. While the legislation did not advance in 2023, it is achieving notable bipartisan support, which is extremely promising for any progressive policy in a Republican-controlled state. Daniels hopes to reintroduce the bill in the new legislative session and build a bipartisan coalition of stakeholder support through employers, business groups, and community, education, and family empowerment organizations across the state.

Free School Meals for Eligible Kids

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Little Rock State Senator Clarke Tucker’s bill to offer free school meals for low-income students was signed into law. The USDA provides income eligibility guidelines for public school students throughout the United States to qualify for either free or reduced-price school meals. Tucker’s Act 656 eliminates the cost of all school meals for students who come from families that qualify for reduced-priced meals. This will have a huge impact on families who rely on school meals for their kids to eat and who need their dollars to stretch a little further.

The law creates a tiered system of funding. The Arkansas Department of Education will utilize any available federal funds to pay for these meals, and then the state will cover any remaining costs (including dedicated funding from medical marijuana tax revenue).


Students who qualify for reduced-priced meals come from families with limited means and are still required to make some payment to receive their school meals. The price of those families’ school meals, even when reduced, can add up and even create debt. As part of the legislation, the state auditing entity will audit the Arkansas Department of Education Child Nutrition Unit and provide a report to the Senate and House Committees on Education every year to monitor the program, ensure that every eligible child in Arkansas is receiving these meals, and help the legislature budget appropriately.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Policy for Maine

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

The Guaranteed Paid Family Leave plan, sponsored by Maine Representative Kristen Cloutier, will provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year to all eligible employees in the private and public sector. The plan permits employees to take leave to care for any individual with whom they have a significant personal bond that is or is like a family relationship regardless of biological or legal relationship. Employees can take paid leave immediately after starting employment.

Paid family and medical leave will help Maine workers, particularly working women, meet their personal and family health care needs, while also fulfilling work responsibilities. To pay for this program while keeping track of who gets helped, the state will impose a 1% contribution rate, split evenly between the employer and employee.


The state of Maine will keep track of how the program is affecting businesses and whether they are adapting well to implementation of the program over time. Additionally, Cloutier built in strong accountability provisions to monitor the sustainability of the fund and allows for the contribution rates to be adjusted as necessary.


San Diego Councilman Raul Campillo Supported Ordinance that Ensures Protections for Family Child Care Providers

California: San Diego Councilman Raul Campillo championed a new ordinance that strengthens protections for family child care providers operating from their homes. The new protections will prevent landlords from seeking unreasonable eviction or rent increases. “We know that family childcare providers play a vital role in providing essential services for families and that they can be a big part of improving the supply of childcare options in our city,” said Campillo.

ARP: St. Louis gives dozens of child care providers a total of $1.7M, with more on the way

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones recently spearheaded the distribution of American Rescue Plan funds to 56 childcare providers, offering an average reimbursement of $36,000 per provider. This initiative came on the heels of the city’s Board of Aldermen passing a bill last month that allocated an additional $2 million for childcare funding. The bill was part of a larger $52.2 million package, which also featured a widely-publicized $5 million guaranteed income program, providing 440 city households with $500 monthly payments over an 18-month period.


The primary objective of these funds is to bridge the gap “between the state childcare subsidy rate and the cost of licensed care for children under five years old,” spanning from January 2021 to December 2021. Mayor Jones expressed her enthusiasm for the collaboration, stating, “This partnership between the Community Development Administration and Saint Louis MHB will support dozens of providers and improve access to the childcare working families need.”

ARPA: New Bedford Expanding Access to High Quality Child Care

Even before the pandemic, New Bedford faced a shortage of childcare enrollment slots, particularly in high-quality facilities. In order to increase the supply of high-quality early learning, childcare, and out-of-school time care opportunities in New Bedford, Mayor Jon Mitchell released an RFP for capital costs associated with new or expanded childcare and educational facilities. Ultimately, NorthStar Learning Centers was awarded $2 million to build a new childcare facility, leverages an additional $7 million of funds raised in support of the project.

NorthStar Learning Centers, Inc. is a people-of-color-led nonprofit multi-service organization born out of the civil rights movement in New Bedford in 1974. NorthStar serves some of our city’s highest-need children and families. All but a very small number of the young children they serve are funded by state vouchers for family economic and/or child safety reasons. When completed, it will expand NorthStar’s early childhood education and care capacity will increase from 79 children to 134 children; an increase of 70%. In addition to providing childcare, NorthStar will offer a regular schedule of Parenting Education and support programs with a focus on young children

ARP: Boise ID, Provides Direct Assistance to Child Care Workers

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean approved sending nearly $2 million of the city’s ARP funds directly to childcare workers in the form of $1,500 childcare incentive checks. Providers used the money to cover everything from supplies and operations expenses to medical bills and groceries. This positively impacted 1,220 individuals who were working in Boise facilities during the pandemic, representing well over 90% of all eligible providers in the city. Additionally, the Mayor’s Office is working to reduce childcare facility and licensing times and costs. To better serve in-home providers and the families who depend on them, the city is making several process improvements that will reduce licensing time by 60 days and save providers $230 in fees.

Impact Testimony: “There was such uncertainty during the worst of COVID.  Should or would my little school remain open?  What protocols and equipment would be best to use in order to make it as safe an environment as is possible?  How would I budget for these things when it was unclear whether there would even be tuition?  There were so many variables that I considered and struggled with, it has all become such a blur.  This check for $1500 was a tremendous boost.  I know that in hindsight it has helped tremendously to cover many of the expenses that I do not normally have.  I am grateful for it and send huge thanks.“


ARP: Shreveport Announced a $5.3 Million Investment to Support Young People

Mayor Adrian Perkins announced a $5.3 million investment from American Rescue Plan funds to support young people in Shreveport — a direct result of feedback from community listening sessions. Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation will receive $3 million, the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana will receive $1.5 million, and Ronald McDonald House Charities will receive $800,000 for projects ranging from the construction of recreation facilities to providing for families with critically ill children.

ARP: Boston Announced a $7 Million Investment for City Childcare

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced a $7 million investment for city childcare. The Growing the Workforce fund will support recruiting new educators by funding internships, scholarships, and 800 certificates and degrees for individuals working in the early childhood sector. The grantees will also be offering wraparound support services for early child care workers such as apprenticeship and internship stipends, scholarships and mentorship as well as two to three years of employment after graduation. Funded by the American Rescue Plan, the grants aim to increase childcare jobs in the wake of the pandemic.

As reported by MassLive, “’This is an investment in our families, in our economy and in our future,’ Mayor Wu said during a press conference. ‘For all the working parents who had to struggle to find a center with enough staff to accommodate non-traditional working hours, for all the early childhood educators who struggled to find opportunities that recognize your value and compensate you fairly, for all of our cities children who deserve to be taught, nurtured and given the chance to become the leaders and change-makers you’re destined to be today’s announcement is for you.’”

ARP: Scranton PA, Allocated $1.5 Million to Support Child Care and Literacy Programs

Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti allocated $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support child care and literacy programs. Cognetti hopes to expand new and affordable child care options, while also addressing learning loss caused by the pandemic. $750,000 will go to K-12 catchup and assistance programs, $500,000 will go to affordable child care programs, and $250,000 will go to educational programs on literacy and financial literacy.

As reported by the The Times-Tribune, “’We thought that this would be a great place to announce this as our kids are an asset here in Scranton,’ Cognetti said. ‘This $1.5 million is to help them grow and help them catch up from what has been a really tough, tough few years for kids in school and also in the child care space.’ The grants, which will come from the city’s $68.7 million in ARPA funding, will enhance what school districts and other educational entities do, the mayor said.”



Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti announced the recipients of over $725,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grants to early childhood providers to support access to affordable programs. Recipients will use the funds to add staff and classrooms to accommodate more families, while expanding educational opportunities and enrichment activities for children.