Rep. Mace Introduces Bill to Ease D.C. Child Care Rules, Says It Will Boost Jobs

Representative Nancy Mace has introduced a bill that she said would help combat overregulation in the child care industry in Washington, D.C.

The bill — called the Childcare Worker Opportunity Act — aims to repeal a rule issued by the state superintendent of education that requires child care workers to have a degree, certificate or a minimum number of credit hours from an institution of higher education. Co-led by Sen. Mike Lee (R), supporters of the bill said it would create more job opportunities and affordability.

“DC has overregulated the child care industry, just like everything else in this city,” said Mace (R, SC-01). “As a result, they have left families without options. Our bill with Senator Lee would repeal this burdensome regulation, giving parents affordable child care options and providing more job opportunities for those who want to care for children.”

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The impetus for the change in child care regulations came after the District of Columbia City Council passed a law in 2016 requiring child care center directors to have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, teachers to have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and teaching assistants and caregivers in home day care centers to have a child development specialist certificate.

The regulation entered into force in 2023.

For years, the law was mired in legal trouble. In August 2022, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed the lawsuit’s long-standing allegations, upholding the law.

Supporters of the education legislation say the law professionalizes the child care industry because research has shown that infants and toddlers develop faster.

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Critics of the law say it creates another barrier to entry for caregivers who would otherwise be qualified. Opponents also say it raises the cost of child care.

The latest data suggests that Washington is one of the most expensive areas for child care. Families spend about $24,243 per year on child care, according to a report by the Tootris News and Education Center.

“D.C. parents face an uphill battle as child care costs spiral out of control, making it a privilege only the wealthy can afford,” said Senator Lee. “Current regulations are not only impractical, they are counterproductive, driving qualified child care workers out of the workplace.

“The Childcare Worker Opportunity Act aims to remove these barriers by providing immediate relief to families and ensuring children receive the care they need. This bill will provide much-needed flexibility and affordability to the District’s child care system at a time when families need it most.”

About 57% of parents said the lack and cost of early childhood education would impact their ability to continue living in D.C., according to a recent Under 3 DC survey. Families are burdened with exorbitant fees, often exceeding $2,600 a month, forcing parents to make difficult financial decisions, they said.

You can read the full bill below.