Rep. Mace Proposes Legislation to Improve D.C. Child Welfare Laws

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) has introduced a bill to “repeal unnecessary regulations” and “provide parents with more affordable options” in the child care industry in Washington, D.C.

The Child Care Worker Opportunity Act seeks to repeal regulations requiring child care workers to have a degree, certificate, or a minimum number of credit hours from an institution of higher education as determined by the state education superintendent.

Co-chairs Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) say the bill will help create more job opportunities and affordability.

“The District of Columbia has overregulated the child care industry, just like everything else in this city,” Mace said in a statement.

“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.”

In 2016, the District of Columbia City Council passed legislation requiring child care center directors to have a bachelor’s degree and teachers to have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.

In addition, paraprofessionals and caregivers working in home day care settings are required to obtain the Child Development Associate certification.

After years of legal challenges, the regulation went into effect in 2023 after the U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuits in 2022.

While supporters say the regulations professionalize the child care industry, opponents say they create another barrier for qualified caregivers and raise the cost of child care.

The District of Columbia is one of the most expensive states for child care, averaging $24,243 per year ($2,020 per month) in 2023, according to a report by the Tootris News and Education Center.

“D.C. parents face a difficult challenge as child care costs spiral out of control, making it a privilege that only the wealthy can afford,” Lee said in a statement. “Current regulations are not only impractical, they are also counterproductive, pushing qualified child care workers out of their jobs.”

He also said the new bill would provide “much-needed flexibility and affordability” to the system at a time when families need it most.

According to a recent survey conducted by Under 3 DC, 57% of parents said the cost of early childhood education would impact their ability to continue living in DC.

Senator Katie Britt (R-AL) also supports the initiative.


“The lack of common sense in Washington is making things increasingly difficult for American families,” Britt said in a statement.

“For example, D.C.’s completely unnecessary requirement that child care workers have a college degree has contributed to a depletion of the local child care workforce. The result: fewer and fewer child care options for parents at increasingly higher costs.”