Murkowski Reinforces Need to Support Child Care Availability, Affordability, and Workforce

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) took part in a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing to discuss the need to support working families and child care workers as we focus on the child care shortage. During the hearing, Senator Murkowski referenced numerous Alaska-specific challenges within the child care arena.

For Senator Murkowski’s full remarks, click here

Leading up to her question for the witnesses, Senator Murkowski stated that she was glad the Committee was discussing childcare given the need for options for Alaska’s families and raised the impacts of child care on Alaska’s workforce and military readiness.

“In my state, sixty-one percent of Alaskans live in what they call a child care desert. They have nothing. So when we are looking for workers for everything from slope workers to teachers to doctors – I’m having workforce issues in other spaces because we simply don’t have access to child care,” said Senator Murkowski. “The community of Valdez, the terminus of the Alaska pipeline, has a great little hospital there. They were trying to hire some providers and they had nurses lined up to come, and they find out that the only licensed childcare facility in all of Valdez has closed down—and there is no plan to address it. The Coast Guard says that if we don’t have child care in Valdez, we’re not so sure about the viability of Valdez as a Coast Guard community. Child care is not only a work force issue, it’s a military readiness issue.”

Senator Murkowski also noted, “child care is an imperative in our communities and we’ve got to do more to address it” and referenced a recent article, published in the Alaska Beacon, which highlights the lack of availability and affordability of child care in Alaska, including one facility that charges $1700 per child for care. “You tell me how me how a family of a teacher and a firefighter is finding seventeen-hundred for their one kid. It’s not only child care deserts, it’s affordability.  We have a role here. It is impacting our military security and our economic security,” Senator Murkowski stated. 

Senator Murkowski finished her remarks by raising theChild Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act, legislation introduced by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and co-sponsored by Senator Murkowski last Congress to help childcare providers and families without micromanagement from the federal government.