Lee, Mace Target D.C.’s Absurd, Cost-Inflating Childcare Regulations

July 10, 2024


WASHINGTON – Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Childcare Worker Opportunity Act, a bill to alleviate the escalating childcare crisis in the District of Columbia. The proposed legislation seeks to repeal the stringent 2016 regulation that mandates childcare workers to hold a college degree, a rule that has significantly contributed to the shortage of childcare providers and the skyrocketing costs families face. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.


Parents in D.C. are facing an uphill battle with childcare costs spiraling out of control, making it a privilege only the wealthy can afford," said Sen. Mike Lee. "The current regulations are not only impractical but also harmful, pushing skilled childcare workers out of their jobs. The Childcare Worker Opportunity Act aims to remove these barriers, offering immediate relief to families and ensuring children receive the care they need. This bill will bring much-needed flexibility and affordability to the District's childcare system at a time when families need it most.”


D.C. has overregulated the child care industry, much like everything else in this city," said Rep. Nancy Mace. "Subsequently, they’ve left families with no options. Our bill with Senator Lee repeals this burdensome regulation, giving parents affordable childcare options and providing greater work opportunities for those who wish to care for children."


The shortage of common sense in Washington continues to make it harder and harder on American families. For example, a completely unnecessary D.C. requirement for childcare workers to hold a college degree contributed to depleting the local childcare workforce. The result: less and less childcare options for parents at increasingly higher costs. Reversing this rule would not only be a positive change for hardworking families in our nation’s capital, but it would send a strong signal reaffirming bipartisan support for making childcare more accessible and more affordable nationwide," said Sen. Katie Britt.


More than half of parents in D.C. report being unable to find childcare for their preschool-aged children, and if they do, they face the highest childcare costs in the nation.


Rather than addressing these issues, the D.C. City Council enacted a 2016 law that exacerbates the shortage of childcare providers by requiring them to hold either an associate or bachelor’s degree. This regulation officially took effect in 2023 and is unique to D.C., with no substantial evidence suggesting that degree-holding childcare providers are more effective than those without a formal university education.


The Childcare Worker Opportunity Act will address these issues by repealing portions of the final rulemaking issued by the State Superintendent of Education of the District of Columbia on December 7, 2016. This action will eliminate the requirement for childcare workers to have a degree, certificate, or a minimum number of credit hours from an institution of higher education to receive their official childcare license.


For one pager, click HERE. 
For bill text, click HERE.