Park City Council approves budget with $1 million for child care funding
The Park City Council approved the city budget for the next fiscal year Thursday. It includes $1 million of one-time child care funding.
The budget allocation comes after parents and providers lobbied the council to invest in local child care.
The move is seen as a stopgap measure to help child care providers who face a financial cliff with the end of pandemic-era funding from the federal government. The city council also has discussed creating stipends to help parents pay for tuition and using financial incentives to boost the number of caregivers for infants.
A city committee that will decide how to allocate the $1 million met for the first time this week.
Early Childhood Alliance Executive Director Kristen Schulz, who is part of the committee, said there will have to be hard trade-offs. Schulz proposed a program to the council that would have provided care for more than 200 children for around $2 million.
“I think everyone agrees that we need to make the highest and best impact with the available funding, but there simply is not enough to do everything that the Early Childhood Alliance had hoped to accomplish,” Schulz said.
She told the council its assistance was crucial, as the private market for child care is failing, not just in Park City, but around the country. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen touched on the subject in a recent speech.
“The free market works well in many different sectors, but child care is not one of them,” Yellen said. “It does not work for the caregivers, it does not work for the parents, it does not work for the kids. And because it does not work for them, it does not work for the country. Child care is a textbook example of a broken market.”
Yellen said the broken child care market has real impacts on the American economy.
“An enormous body of economic literature finds that kids with access to quality child care ended up in school longer, and in higher paying jobs afterward. When we underinvest in child care, we forgo that. We give up a happier, healthier, more prosperous labor force in the future. In fact we forgo one today too," she said. "The lack of child care leads so many parents, mostly mothers, to drop out of the workforce.”
Park City cut a project to build traffic barriers on Main Street and delayed renovations for the Marsac Building to fund the child care provision.
Schulz said the working group plans to present several funding options to the city council as early as late July.