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Governor Youngkin proposes more than $400 million for childcare efforts

FILE - Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks at a news conference Nov. 8, 2023 in Richmond, Va.
Jay Paul
FR170113 AP
FILE - Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks at a news conference Nov. 8, 2023 in Richmond, Va.

Childcare is expected to be a major topic of conversation for the upcoming General Assembly session.

During the pandemic, the federal government provided millions of dollars to help families with childcare. Now, that money is about to expire, and low-income families across Virginia are trying to figure out what happens next.

Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin says members of the General Assembly need to step in and help bridge the gap.

"Coming out of the pandemic, working parents, and particularly mothers, struggle to remain in the workforce because of a lack of childcare options," Youngkin says.

That's why he's proposing more than $400 million to make sure low-income families are able to keep access to childcare. He also wants to invest $25 million to help build capacity in childcare deserts.

Kim Bobo at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy says Virginia has been relying on federal stimulus money to underwrite childcare programs.

"The bigger question for us as a Commonwealth is how do we invest in childcare so it's not a one-off thing," Bobo asks. "Can we figure out how to fund this in an ongoing basis so that you don't have to have these special initiatives?"

The governor says 27,000 children are at risk of losing childcare. But the Virginia Promise Partnership estimates that number is higher at 35,000. Members of the money committees will soon be making a determination about how much money is needed to accomplish the goal.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.