June 29, 2023

Early Childhood Leaders Applaud Historic Investments in Child Care, Outline Next Steps for N.H. Children

CONCORD, NH – This morning, as New Hampshire lawmakers gathered for the last day of the 2023 Legislative Session, leading Early Childhood advocates and champions joined together to applaud investments in child care in the State Budget and outline next steps for Granite State children and families.

During the 2023 session, legislators made historic investments in child care, directing $60.5 million in the State Budget to support families, including $15 million to support the child care workforce. These investments will go far to increase access to quality and affordable child care, allowing many parents to return to the workforce.

“During the 2023 session, the NH Legislature made historic investments in child care through the inclusion of SB 237 in the biennial State Budget, including $15 million in state funds to support the child care workforce and over $45.5 million, through a mix of federal and state funds, to fund critical changes in NH’s Childcare Scholarship Program,” said Sen. Rebecca Whitley, who led the push to prioritize child care in the State Budget. “These investments will go far to increase access to quality and affordable child care, allowing many parents to return to the workforce.”

At the press conference, legislative champions and advocates from New Futures, Save the Children Action Network, and the N.H. Council for Thriving Children, among others, discussed the impact of the budget funding on Granite State children and families.

The 2023 KIDS COUNT® Data Book recently ranked New Hampshire the top state in the country for overall child well-being. Still, child care access and cost remain a great challenge to many families. Across New Hampshire, more than 40 child care centers have closed their doors in recent years, eliminating nearly 1,500 slots for children and adding to the growing demand for availability.

Rebecca Woitkowski, Kids Count Policy Director, New Futures: “New Hampshire recently ranked the #1 state for overall child wellbeing by Annie E. Casey’s Kids Count report as compared to the rest of the nation. Even as the top-ranking state, the Kids Count data shows New Hampshire families struggle with barriers to child care, housing, food security and the reality that vast regional differences exist with regard to access to critical resources. We, collectively, have a duty to ensure all children have a strong foundation and their families have ample support – and I believe that our bipartisan leaders recognized that duty this session.”

Sen. Denise Ricciardi: “I came to the New Hampshire Senate to do what’s best, not for a political party, but for families across New Hampshire. There has never been a greater need for the legislature to act in helping moms and their babies. We passed the comprehensive Momnibus bill that not only expands Medicaid coverage from two months to 12 months but also extends the coverage to include doulas, lactation services and donor breastmilk.”

Lindsay Hanson, Senior Director of State and National Campaigns, Save the Children Action Network: “Save the Children Action Network is committed to building and mobilizing our grassroots base to engage directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle until every child in the Granite State has access to high quality and affordable child care. While we’ve made great strides this year, we still have a lot to do. New Hampshire is only one of seven states that does not invest any state dollars in pre-kindergarten, and as stated in the Kids Count report, the number of women who can’t go back to into the workforce due to unreliable access to child care is on the rise.”

Christina LaChance, Director, N.H. Council for Thriving Children: “This past December, the Council for Thriving Children was able to release its strategic plan. With the investments we are hearing about today, many of the Council’s recommendations can now begin to be realized. There are many investments still needed in our early childhood field, but we are absolutely thrilled to see this level of progress happening in New Hampshire with such vigor.”

Caitlin Loving, parent advocate and mother of two, Manchester: “To cover our childcare gap between April and June of this year, we hired a nanny and paid four times the amount we were paying for our daughter in daycare. Our nanny was wonderful and worth the expense, and we were lucky that we could afford it. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the price tag made me catch my breath, and every week I thought of parents who would not have been able to incorporate this expense, even for the short term.”