Child Care A Focus For Governors at the 2024 NGA Winter Meeting

Child Care is a policy issue that often cuts across many areas of public interest, including workforce participation, economic mobility, public health, and even energy and infrastructure. At the 2024 NGA Winter Meeting, child care was a hot topic, generating discussion in several sessions, pointing to this being a top policy priority for Governors in 2024.

“People say to me, oh [child care] is social policy. I don’t see it that way; I see it as workforce participation. If you want people to show up and work and be productive, you’ve got to figure out a way to take care of kids.”

Secretary Gina Raimondo

While discussions around the semi-conductor industry, mining of rare minerals and increasing workforce participation across the United States first dominated the conversation at NGA’s Economic Development and Revitalization Task Force session held during the 2024 NGA Winter Meeting, child care emerged as a standout topic of shared interest for the Governors in attendance. Midway through the conversation, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo highlighted this critical missing piece of the conversation when discussing lower workforce participation rates that are limiting economic growth across the country.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo highlighted the CHIPS and Science Act and the Department of Commerce’s commitment to affordable, accessible, high-quality and reliable child care. Per the CHIPS and Science Act, all companies applying for more than $150 million in funding must submit a child care plan to the department, ensuring that increased access to child care works hand in hand with the creation of new jobs. With historic levels of funding from the CHIPS and Science Act, state leaders have the opportunity to partner with the business community to support increased access to child care as a way to increase workforce participation.

Discussion between Governors revealed a focus on child care deserts as one specific barrier to workforce participation they are looking to tackle. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum touted his recent $65 million investment i to address affordability, accessibility and quality of child care, all aimed at supporting the state’s high workforce participation rate. This investment includes:

  • $22 million to expand the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).
  • $15 million to incentivize more providers to deliver child care for infants and toddlers by increasing the CCAP rates for child care centers and group/family child care settings.
  • $3 million to increase monthly payments to providers who are quality rated.
  • $5 million for an additional 500 families to participate in a pilot project where private employers contribute money to help cover their employees’ child care expenses.
  • $2 million in stipends for child care workers pursuing additional training.
  • $3 million to increase support to providers who want to become quality-rated or increase their current quality rating.

These themes were echoed by Governors at the Council of Governors meeting as well as the Economic Development and Revitalization Task Force session also held during the Winter Meeting.

Child Care is a Priority amongst State Leadership

Going into 2024, child care remains a top priority for Governors . In February, NGA convened its Children & Families Core Advisors Board (CAB), where CAB members identified child care as a top priority within their administrations, highlighting both sustainable funding and access as top themes in the space. This mirrors the recent focus that state leadership has taken on the issue as well. As of February 2024, 23 Governors have mentioned child care investments in their state of the state addresses, with two Governors (Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers) highlighting child care as one of their top policy priorities.

In his 2024 state of the state address, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin highlighted the new “building blocks” plan for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He said, “By innovating with a digital wallet, ensuring no working family loses access, prioritizing parent choice and cutting red tape for families and providers, we are delivering a best-in-class model for early learning and childcare. These are the building blocks that are at the center of the future of the Commonwealth.”

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs outlined both access and connection to the K-12 education system when delivering remarks about child care in her 2024 state of the state address . She said, “It’s these [workforce development] programs, along with a strong higher education system and access to child care, that will ensure more Arizonans have the ability to get a good job that supports themselves and their families.”

Next Steps

The NGA Children & Families team continues to prioritize child care as a top priority for programming in 2024, specifically focusing on bringing states and territories together to innovate and learn from one another.

In early 2024, NGA convened Governors’ workforce advisors and workforce board chairs at the Winter Workforce Institute. The NGA Children & Families team facilitated a conversation at the institute on bridging child care access and workforce participation, generating a robust discussion on the unique ways states are tackling this issue.

NGA recently published “Optimizing Federal COVID Relief Funds: State Perspectives On Bolstering Child Care And Early Childhood Systems,” a publication on state decision making around child care investments with Covid relief funding.

NGA continues to convene the Human Services Policy Advisors Institute  on a monthly basis, with topics that crosscut the child care space, including early childhood apprenticeships and non-traditional hour care.

Additionally, the NGA Children and Families team plans to host roundtables focused on child care through the spring and summer of 2024. More information about these learning opportunities will be available in the coming months.

This article was developed by Elijah McCabe, Policy Analyst with the NGA Center for Best Practices Children & Families Team. For more information on Governors’ child care work please contact