While major federal changes to child care costs are unlikely this year, some minor changes that could have bigger ripple effects are taking place.
In August 2022, President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act, which invested billions of dollars into computer chip and semiconductor manufacturing in the United States. The White House estimates hundreds of thousands of jobs will eventually be created because of it.
The Commerce Department says in order for computer chip makers to receive U.S. funding, they must provide access to affordable child care. The department is now beginning the process of deciding who should get the money.
Page three of the Commerce Department's fact sheet about the process says "any applicant requesting more than $150 million in funding must provide a plan for access to affordable, accessible, reliable, and high-quality child care for both facility and construction workers."
On Twitter, the Secretary of Commerce made clear "affordable child care" access is a big requirement.
Ali Lemaster doesn't have any plans on working in the computer chips industry, but she is a recruiter in the private sector for an automobile company in Florida. She says what the Department of Commerce is attempting to do is already happening in the private sector; her company helps pay for her child's day care.
Bright Horizons, a national child care provider, told Scripps News more companies are offering child care perks just like they would health care or a 401K.
Lemaster says her company's relationship with Bright Horizons saves her around $300 a month.
"I am going to think twice about leaving this organization because I am not just moving myself, I am moving my child. So it's a great retention play," Lemaster said.
Whether or not the Department of Commerce's child care requirement fuels more private companies to offer assistance is still very much to be determined, but it's clear the requirement is creating controversy.
Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, who voted for the CHIPS and Science Act, called the provision part of a "union agenda," and Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told the AP last month, "What President Biden is doing by jamming woke and green agenda items into legislation we pass is making it harder for him to ever get legislation passed again."
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