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Nevada needs a child care advocate in Carson City

Denise Tanata
Denise Tanata
Opinion
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Investments in child care are some of the smartest Nevada could make. Studies show children who receive high-quality care are more likely to graduate, less likely to be arrested, and lead healthier lives long-term. In addition to the benefits for individual children, affordable, accessible, high-quality child care is also an economic boon because it helps many parents enter, or return to, the workforce. 

Right now, lack of access to child care is one of the main issues keeping people at home. This especially affects women, who are more likely to leave their jobs and stay out of the workforce because of child care restraints. As we recover from COVID and grow our economy, the need for more affordable, accessible child care resources across Nevada has only become more clear. Thankfully, we’re already taking steps in the right direction.

Last year, the state received more than $365 million from the American Rescue Plan through the Administration for Children and Families to support child care in Nevada. Through Gov. Sisolak’s leadership, the state is investing more than $218 million in direct stipends for child care providers to cover up to six months of operating expenses – ensuring these providers can keep their doors open.  These funds are also being utilized to provide subsidies to support the cost of background checks and to provide start up grants to new providers, ultimately expanding the availability of child care for Nevada families.

Investments are also being made to support the long-term infrastructure of the child care sector. Consultants are now available to work with business leaders, chambers of commerce and economic development authorities to address employee child care needs by providing resources and supports to employers. These funds are also supporting the provision of administrative supports for child care providers including shared services, bulk purchasing, and marketing and recruitment strategies to support back end business operations.  Additional supports are focusing on reducing transitions for young children by addressing health disparities and behavioral health issues through the development of an Early Childhood Community Health Worker program and mental health consultations.

In late February, I joined Gov. Sisolak and members of our federal delegation to open the Southern Nevada Child Care Services Center in Las Vegas. This facility will act as a “hub” for child care providers, helping them get the resources they need to get off the ground, expand, and support families in Southern Nevada and eventually, throughout the state.

And in his State of the State address, Gov. Sisolak announced the state will invest an additional $160 million to lower the costs of child care and support child care workers. This investment will double the amount of families Nevada supports and will go a long way to expand access to quality, affordable child care services – but we still have a lot of work to do to build a comprehensive and sustainable early childhood system in Nevada.

It is imperative that Nevada continues to have a governor who supports early childhood in the years to come. We’ve made significant strides, but we know there’s more work to be done to ensure continued support for our children, their families and their providers.

Denise Tanata has been working in the field of child advocacy, research and policy in Nevada for over 20 years. She currently serves as the Early Childhood Systems Director at The Children's Cabinet and has held previous positions at the Children's Advocacy Alliance and the Nevada Institute for Children's Research and Policy at UNLV.

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