April 6, 2023 – thread, Alaska’s Child Care Resource & Referral organization, applauds Governor Mike Dunleavy’s announcement today to establish a child care task force. The Administrative Order (AO346) signed by the Governor today takes effect immediately.
Child care is a pressing need across Alaska which is impacting the state’s workforce and economy, and children’s readiness for school. The new task force is charged with developing a plan to improve the availability and affordability of quality child care throughout Alaska.
“Every child, every family and every community deserves to have access to high-quality, affordable child care,” said Stephanie Berglund, thread’s CEO. “High-quality child care keeps children safe and healthy, and helps them to develop the skills they need for school success. It is also an essential service, supporting a family’s ability to work.”
Child care is a complex issue with many facets, from the high cost that parents pay to the underpaid workforce to the cost of high-quality care. Federal relief funding has shown that investment in child care pays off for retaining early educators and keeping child care businesses open.
“thread has been advocating for sustainable solutions for child care that engage both the private and public sector, and align to the state’s Early Childhood Strategic Plan,” said Lindsie Mills, President of thread’s Board of Directors. “The Governor’s announcement today prioritizes this issue for our state and puts us on a path to finding solutions together.”
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. To support the task force work, a new cost of care study and a workforce study will be conducted, and the market rate survey will be updated. The initial report is due to the Governor by December 31, 2023.
Child care is an issue that impacts all Alaskans and will only be solved with the involvement of all Alaskans. “We are excited that the conversation is being raised and more partners are being invited to the table,” said Berglund. “We are optimistic for our children’s future.” thread also extends special thanks to the State of Alaska Department of Health and the Child Care Program Office as well as the Alaska Chamber of Commerce for their work in this area.
Read the Governor’s press release here.