News Conference on Tuesday, March 17, Will Precede Montgomery Hearings on 2 Bills Addressing Child Care Needs
ROCKVILLE, Md., March 16, 2015—Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro will be joined by childcare providers, nonprofit leaders and community advocates at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, to explain how her two newly-introduced bills will help expand and enhance the provision of child care in Montgomery County. One of the bills would help provide public space at an affordable rate for organizations serving low-income families and vulnerable youth—including those that provide childcare services. The other bill would help expand licensed child care opportunities.
The news conference starting at 7 p.m. will be held in the Third Floor Conference Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. At 7:30 p.m. in the Third Floor Hearing Room, the Council will hold public hearings on Bills 11-15 and 12-15. The public hearings will be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and will be streamed live via the Council web site at: www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council .
Councilmember Navarro’s child care bill (Bill 11-15)—which is cosponsored by Council Vice President Nancy Floreen—would create a Child Care Expansion and Quality Enhancement Initiative in the County’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The bill would require DHHS to hold informational sessions for prospective family child care providers about how to become state-licensed providers. The bill also requires DHHS to hold informational sessions for current child care providers, including information on how to obtain additional licenses and accreditation.
For both current licensed family child care providers and prospective child care providers, the bill requires DHHS to provide technical assistance and business training, site-visits (if requested) and services in Spanish and other languages. This bill also requires an annual report to the Council by Feb. 1 about the activities, accomplishments and DHHS plans related to the initiative and an assessment of the County’s child care needs.
“When it comes to parents’ decisions about child care arrangements, many low-income and immigrant communities rely on relatives and/or home-based care—often unregulated care settings,” said Councilmember Navarro. “It is imperative to continue placing emphasis on family childcare providers as one component of the early care and education continuum of service to raise the quality, affordability and accessibility of child care.”
The Maryland Child Care Resource Network estimates that in Montgomery County, the number of children under age 11 with mothers in the workforce is 138,292. There are currently 933 family childcare providers with the capacity to serve 7,012 children, and roughly 64 percent of these providers speak a language other than English. The goals of Bill 11-15 are to assist, in a culturally and linguistically competent manner, potential providers in navigating the procedures required for licensing, increase the number of children being served and ensure quality childcare programs.
“The need for affordable, quality child care continues to increase in Montgomery County, but the availability of child care slots is failing to keep pace, especially in the category of family child care providers,” said Councilmember Floreen. “Obviously, this is unsustainable, and we must take action sooner rather than later to make quality child care more available to our working families. It benefits not only our children and families, but the County’s economic vitality as well.”
Bill 12-15, also sponsored by Councilmember Navarro, would increase the affordability and use of public facilities by organizations serving vulnerable youth and low-income families. The bill would create a program that provides fee waivers or reductions for eligible organizations in need of public use space. It requires the Director of Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF) to conduct outreach and provide technical assistance to help encourage the use of public facilities by organizations that serve some of the County’s most vulnerable residents. It also would require a biennial report from CUPF, which would highlight the successes and challenges pertaining to the implementation of this program.
In the past, non-profit organizations and community-based groups have identified the need for more affordable community use space in the County. In Fiscal Year 2013, the Council funded a Community Access Pilot Program to provide financial assistance and increased opportunities for groups, organizations and community members to receive financial assistance from the County to secure space in the Silver Spring Civic Building. The pilot program is open to various community groups and civic organizations. Bill 12-15 expands on the practice by providing financial assistance to groups serving vulnerable youth and low-income families across all public space managed by the County.
“I am proud to sponsor these bills. Before holding elected office, I trained hundreds of providers and watched informal babysitting arrangements transform into successful, legitimate businesses,” said Councilmember Navarro. “The national trends show that the academic achievement gap is present before children enter kindergarten. As a member of the Early Childhood Committee of the White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, I know that providing a high-quality education for all children is critical to America’s socio-economic success.”
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