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Helping working parents afford child care crucial for workforce development, panel is told

CARSON CITY — Helping middle- and low-income working parents afford proper care for their children is crucial to Nevada’s workforce development and economic diversification efforts, a Senate panel was told Tuesday.

State Sen. Patricia Farley, I-Las Vegas, said her bill to provide tax credits to businesses that help employees paying for child care up to $5,000 a year would help in these important efforts. Costs can reach $9,000 and more a year.

Farley testified on Senate Bill 455 in the Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee. She said the measure is being combined with a similar proposal advanced by state Sen. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, to help ensure workers are productive because they know their children are being well-cared-for in licensed child care facilities.

No immediate action was taken on the measure.

As a mother of two children, Farley said she knows firsthand how important finding and paying for quality child care is for families. Not only is it important to keep children safe, she said, but it’s also important to ensure they get the critical learning opportunities needed to grow up and be part of the next generation of qualified workers.

“My whole goal and purpose is to keep working people working,” Farley said. “I don’t want to keep people on welfare. I don’t want to keep people on subsidies.”

The bill would cover employees whose household income does not exceed 85 percent of the median household income in the state. It would cover children 12 and younger.

Jared Busker, a policy analyst for the Children’s Advocacy Alliance, said Nevada is one of the least affordable states for the cost of infant care at a licensed family child care facility.

With costs for infant care in Southern Nevada in the range of $10,000 a year, it would take a single parent making $10 an hour 25 weeks at 40 hours a week to pay for such care, he told the panel.

Several single parents who talked about attending college and working to improve their lives while trying to afford proper care for their children testified in support of the bill. Marlene Lockard, representing the Nevada Women’s Lobby, also testified in support.

But there was some limited opposition to the bill.

Janine Hansen, a lobbyist representing Nevada Families for Freedom, said some families make sacrifices to have a full-time parent in the home.

“Tax policy should be equitable policy and have fairness for all,” she said.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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