Health and Human Services

Child care provider assistance advanced to final round

A bill that would create a new category of eligibility for Nebraska child care providers was narrowed and advanced from select file April 4.

Sen. John Fredrickson
Sen. John Fredrickson

LB856, introduced by Omaha Sen. John Fredrickson, would exclude all earned and unearned income from eligibility determinations for the Child Care Subsidy program for households with at least one individual who holds employment in a qualifying child care setting.

Individuals who pass a criminal background check and are employed at least 20 hours a week at an in-home or licensed child care facility would be eligible for free child care for their own children under the program.

Fredrickson offered a select file amendment, adopted 35-0, that replaced the bill. The amendment would remove categorical eligibility for child care providers under the Child Care Subsidy program but would keep an exception that was adopted on general file for a child care provider who cares for their own child.

Current Nebraska law prohibits the state Department of Health and Human Services from providing a subsidy to a child care provider who cares for their own child. LB856 would create an exception if an employer has attempted to make reasonable accommodations to ensure that a provider is not caring for their own child but such an accommodation cannot be made.

Fredrickson said he was disappointed to narrow the bill’s scope, but that the measure still would address a common problem among smaller child care providers in rural Nebraska who struggle to separate parents and children due to limited staff and space.

“Taking this smaller step now will give us more time to analyze the data from Iowa and other states who have moved forward on categorical eligibility for providers,” he said.

Fredrickson introduced another amendment to allow the department to develop rules and regulations to carry out the bill’s provisions and provide an operative date of July 1, 2025.

After adopting the amendment on a vote of 38-0, senators advanced LB856 to final reading by voice vote.

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