The Nebraska Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony October 11 on two interim studies, Legislative Resolutions LR151 and LR191. Interim studies are conducted after the Legislature has adjourned sine die and give senators and committees the opportunity to explore topics of interest. Interim studies often lead to future legislation.
LR151: Introduced by State Senator Wendy DeBoer (Dist. 10) is examining results of the Nebraska Child Care Cost Model, developed as a product of the state’s federal Preschool Development Grant to help determine the true cost of providing child care in Nebraska.
Child care subsidy reimbursements currently are based on the market rate providers across the state charge for care. Providers typically base their rates on what parents can afford to pay rather than their costs to care for children, which leaves a gap between providers’ actual costs and the amount they are reimbursed.
Dr. Katie Bass, FFN’s data and policy research advisor, presented a report on the Nebraska Child Care Cost Model and illustrated how it can be used based on variables like ages and number of children, utilization of subsidy, training requirements and more.
Testifiers spoke to the Committee about development of the cost model and how it can help us understand current child care challenges in the state. Child care providers expressed support for using the cost model to demonstrate why they struggle to make ends meet, why parents struggle to afford care, and to provide policymakers with a clear picture to help them make decisions about child care issues. Read FFN’s testimony on LR151
The availability of quality child care has become a top concern in recruiting and retaining Nebraska’s workforce. Working parents rely on safe, quality environments for their children, yet one of the biggest barriers providers face in hiring employees is the process for conducting federally required fingerprint-based background checks for all care providers and residents of child care homes. What should take 7-10 days can take anywhere from 14 to 45 days, or even longer in certain cases. As a result, prospective child care employees are accepting jobs that do not require lengthy waiting periods.
FFN Policy Advisor Mitchell Clark testified on LR191 and outlined three factors that contribute to the processing delay: 1) a significant increase in the volume of checks resulting from recent legislation that requires most licensed occupations to complete background checks; 2) procedural misalignment between the Nebraska State Patrol and the Department of Health and Human Services, which are involved in the process; 3) unnecessary steps in the background check process currently in statute.
Delays in fingerprinting and background checks are more than just an administrative problem. They are a barrier to hiring child care staff, which decreases options for working parents and threatens Nebraska’s ability to support a fully engaged statewide workforce in all sectors of business and industry.
Addtional testifiers at the hearing included a child care provider and representatives from an independent business association, Boys Town, the Nebraska Department of Health and the State Patrol. Read FFN’s testimony on LR191 | Read FFN’s policy brief on the fingerprinting background check process