No county in Indiana adequately meets residents’ needs for high-quality child care according to a report published by Early Learning Indiana this year. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce plans to make the issue one of its legislative priorities.
The state has received more than $1 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds that could be used to help alleviate staffing shortages and increase capacity at child care facilities.
Some federal funding has helped the state create a program to cover up to 80 percent of child care costs for many working families essential workers. The program was set to end in October but was extended into 2022.
Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar said the state needs to find more ways to help Hoosiers get access to child care.
“Whether it’s tax credits, or actual offsets, to get more folks back into the workforce, but also feeling comfortable, that they’ve got quality child care that they can afford,” said Brinegar.
Lawmakers in attendance offered ideas to address the problem, including incentives for businesses to help parents pay for child care.
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Another priority for the Indiana Chamber in 2022 will be vaccine requirements.
The federal vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more employees is set to be challenged in court after several states issued, including Indiana.
Indiana lawmakers proposed legislation last session that would allow employees to “opt-out” of a businesses vaccine mandate, but it died in committee.
Brinegar said the organization will fight any legislation in this area, in support of mandates or against.
“Our position is that employers are in the best position to determine what’s best for their employees, their customers and their patients. And we do not support federal regulations that mandate vaccinations or state laws that prohibit vaccinations,” he said.
Other chamber priorities include workforce training and a statewide renewable energy standard.