(Anchorage, AK) – Thursday Governor Mike Dunleavy issued Administrative Order 346, establishing the Governor’s Task Force on Child Care. The order takes effect immediately.
The task force is charged with developing a plan to improve the availability and affordability of quality child care throughout Alaska. Members are asked to consult existing resources, including strategic plans and needs assessments on child care, to develop specific policy recommendations.
The Alaska Department of Health is working on three contracts that will provide additional information to support the Child Care Task Force. The Department is updating the market rate survey and workforce study and a new cost of care study that has not been done in Alaska before.
“Access to quality child care is extremely important to working families,” said Governor Dunleavy. “Healthy families and a healthy economy go hand in hand, and improving access to child care is essential for both.”
“Healthy families start with supporting Alaska’s youngest residents and ensuring access to quality childcare,” said Department of Health Commissioner Heidi Hedberg. “It is essential for us to receive input from employers, nonprofit organizations, childcare providers, Tribal entities and elected officials to address child care challenges statewide. This work will mobilize support from statewide partners to move from discussing the issues to implementing solutions that will have positive long-lasting impacts.”
The Governor’s Task Force will consist of 11 voting members, including eight who are not state officials, two ex-officio members and one advisory member, who Commissioner Hedberg will designate from the Alaska Child Care Program Office.
“Parents need high-quality child care, provided in a safe environment,” said Heidi Teshner, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education & Early Development. “We understand that parents are empowered to give their best efforts at work when they can do so with confidence, knowing their children are being cared for in a safe and healthy environment.”
“The lack of affordable and accessible quality childcare is a significant workforce challenge, added Department of Labor and Workforce Development Acting Commissioner Cathy Muñoz. “We stand ready to support the recommendations of the task force and will work alongside Alaska’s employer community to implement affordable solutions that address this pressing need.”
An initial report due to the Governor by December 31, 2023, will contain some of the following deliverables:
Evidence-based policy solutions to key child care workforce constraints, including recruitment, retention, compensation and benefits
Identifying child care regulations that pose barriers to increasing the availability of licensed childcare slots, without compromising quality and safety
Solutions to incentivize employer-sponsored child care facilities or benefits
Recommended opportunities to foster public-private partnerships addressing child care workforce and affordability challenges
Framework for a pilot program to offer on-site child care facilities in a State of Alaska office to serve as a model for employer-provided child care benefits
Identifying any other innovative solutions that the task force recommends for delivering affordable, quality child care.