This morning, a House Appropriations Subcommittee listened to early childhood advocates discuss the urgent need for state investment in child care. Arizona faces a child care crisis due to a prolonged lack of investment, compounded by the expiration of federal funds that stabilized the system during the pandemic. The Department of Economic Security estimates that $100 million in SFY25 is needed to maintain child care assistance reimbursement rates and prevent a waitlist for services. Governor Hobbs included this funding in her proposed budget plan earlier this year. Advocates, including CAA’s Vice President of Policy, Kelley Murphy, argued to the subcommittee that this funding should be included in the final state budget proposal.
They emphasized that this would not only benefit children and families but also have positive impacts on Arizona's economy. Other panelists included Chris Herbst, Professor of Public Policy at ASU; Angela Rabago, Chief External Affairs Officer at First Things First; Ericka Mach, Vice President of External Affairs with the Women’s Foundation for the State of Arizona; and Shakesha Shelton, a participant in the Women’s Foundation's Pathways for Single Moms program, which provides child care services to women seeking college degrees. HB2808, sponsored by Jennifer Pawlik and introduced this year, aims to expand that pilot program statewide.
“We are here because child care is vital to Arizona’s economy, and the child care system is in crisis. The system has been in crisis for a long time, it was on the brink before the COVID crisis. The pandemic made it clear that not only is child care an essential public function, but that we need to rethink the way we, as a community and an economy, support it.” - Kelley Murphy, CAA.
All presenters agreed on the importance of prioritizing this issue as the legislative session continues and budget negotiations between House and Senate Leadership and the Governor’s Office begin. Three bills were introduced this session to appropriate the $100 million to the child care program (HB2266, HB2752- both sponsored by Rep. Analise Ortiz, and SB1363- sponsored by Sen. Priya Sundereshan). We will continue to monitor these bills as they progress through the legislative process.
Click here to view a list of all CAA’s priority bills for the legislative session.