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WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) today introduced the Childcare Worker Opportunity Act, a bill to repeal burdensome District of Columbia licensing requirements for childcare workers. The bill is cosponsored by Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and house companion legislation is sponsored by Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C).

In December of 2016, the District of Columbia issued regulations requiring certain childcare workers to have either an associate or bachelor’s degree, depending on the type of child care they provide. 

 “These regulations disproportionately harm low-income families and will further drive up childcare costs, making it more difficult for anyone except the wealthy to afford child care,” said Sen. Lee. “My bill would repeal these harmful and unnecessary regulations, ensuring that experienced childcare workers aren’t forced out of their jobs. Repealing these regulations would also help provide more affordable, flexible childcare for District families, which is needed now more than ever.”  

“It is absolutely ludicrous those who wish to care for children have to obtain a college degree to do so,” said Rep. Mace. “Yet this is exactly the case in Washington, D.C. As a member of the Oversight Committee, which oversees the governance of the Federal City, it’s my job to provide sensible solutions to those struggling in our nation’s capital. Unemployment in D.C. is almost in the double-digits, and parents pay more and wait longer for child care in D.C. than anywhere else in the country. My bill with Senator Lee repeals this absurd regulation, giving parents affordable child care options while providing greater work opportunities for those who wish to care for children.”

Under Article I of the Constitution, Congress has the power to exercise legislative authority over the District of Columbia. The bill would assert that authority to repeal D.C. regulations requiring childcare workers to possess an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, or any college credits in order to provide child care in the District.

See support from outside organizations below:

“Childcare workers and parents are both hurt by ridiculous regulations on daycare centers, like those in Washington, DC, which require that all childcare workers have college degrees as a condition of employment. The Childcare Worker Opportunity Act would provide relief by rolling back that regulation. This is great news for parents struggling to pay for care and also for qualified, patient, and caring people working in the childcare sector.”

-- Carrie Lukas, President, Independent Women’s Voice

“Washington, D.C. has the highest cost of child care in the nation. These regulations serve to further increase the cost and reduce the accessibility of child care, while also burdening childcare workers with unnecessary debt. I'm grateful to see Senator Lee and Representative Mace for working towards addressing these challenges.”

-- Shoshana Weissmann, Fellow, R Street Institute

"Parents don't need a college degree to raise a child. So why should childcare workers require a degree to take care of a child? The District of Columbia's requirement that certain childcare providers obtain an associate or bachelor's degree is absurd, and unfortunately, it is likely responsible for barring otherwise qualified childcare workers from earning a living, as well as driving up the overall cost of child care. During a pandemic when so many are struggling to find good work – and so many parents are struggling to find affordable, flexible care for their children – licensing requirements like those of the District are especially cruel. Sen. Lee's Childcare Worker Opportunity Act is a compassionate and commonsense measure to help working families, and APP fully endorses it."

-- Terry Schilling, President, American Principles Project