Among many provisions related to quality, accessible and affordable early learning, HB2661 creates the Fair Start for Kids account in the state treasury. Money in the account may be used only for the purposes laid out in the bill:
- 55% to support child care access and affordability;
- 35% to increase and sustain child care supply and the early learning workforce; and
- 10% to support children from prenatal to age three and their parents/caregivers.
Each year in specified months the treasurer shall transfer 5% of the revenue deposited into the account during the previous quarter to the early learning facilities revolving account. And every odd-numbered year on June 30th, the treasurer shall transfer $10million from the account to the early learning health care expansion account. This will continue until the legislature adopts a health care funding plan for all child care providers.
Other provisions of the bill relate to accountability, makeup of the early learning advisory and accountability council, committees of the council, rate setting, health care coverage for child care providers, after hours incentives, startup funds, 12 month authorization for defined populations within the child welfare system, removal of work requirements for some categories of post-secondary students, income eligibility for Working Connections Child Care and the Early Education and Assistance Program, rates for child care and pre-school, establishment of a complex needs subsidy rate enhancement, establishment of equity grants, establishment of a dual language designation and rate enhancement, technical assistance for employer supported child care, mental health consultation, provider training grants, provision of shared services hubs, promotion of parent and family education and support, infant and toddler incentives, and programs for children with complex needs.
Substitute compared to the original:
- Revises the duties and membership of the Early Learning Advisory and Accountability Council
- Prohibits the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) from raising a household's Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) copayment during the household's 12-month child care authorization period.
- Clarifies that a household with any child age 5 or younger who is eligible for child care may be eligible for the higher maximum household income of 85% of the state median and adjusted copayments in WCCC.
- Requires the DCYF to consider a regional income measure, such as area median income, when developing the WCCC copayment model.
- Requires child care subsidy base rates at a Level 2 standard of quality to reach 75% of the private market rate rather than rates at a Level 3 standard of quality.
- Requires the DCYF to use the child care cost estimate model to set infant and toddler enhancement rates beginning in 2025.
- Makes technical changes
- Revises findings and intent language
Requires senators to be appointed to the Early Learning Advisory and Accountability Council by president of the Senate.