Emily Rice Published

Governor: Child Care On Special Session Docket

An adult embraces a child holding a teddy bear.
Gov. Jim Justice confirmed that a childcare tax break would be on the agenda for the proposed May special session.
Seventyfour/Adobe Stock

Gov. Jim Justice confirmed that a child care tax break would be on the agenda for the proposed May special session.

A question from Mark Curtis, reporter for WOWK 13 news, prompted Justice to say that in his State of the State address, he proposed tax cuts for young family’s child care costs.

“For a lot of adults in two-parent families, it’s difficult because they can’t afford day care and one parent has to stay home,” Curtis said. “So what kind of legislation might you put on the call in the special session to bring some either tax cuts or tax relief or tax credits to parents or subsidies for child care?”

Justice said he expects legislators to address child care tax cuts during an upcoming proposed May special session, after they restore funding to the Department of Human Services.

“We proposed a tax cut for young families’ daycare and everything,” Justice said. “It was just shoved over to the side, I’ll surely have that on the call, you know, in the special session. The first thing we need to do is we need to get our funding back in place on our budget for DHHR.”

The Fiscal Year 2025 budget that passed both chambers on the last night of the legislative session cut funding for the state’s Medicaid program by about $150 million compared to previous years.

According to a report from Care.com on child care, 47 percent of parents spent more than $1,500 per month on child care expenses in 2023. This adds up to $18,000 per year.

According to the same report, West Virginia ranks among the least expensive places to hire a nanny (an average of $622 per week), a babysitter (an average of $139 per week) or a day care (an average of $141 per week).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers 7 percent of income to be affordable for child care.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2022, the median household income in West Virginia was $55,217, with nearly 18 percent of persons in poverty.

Therefore, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services metrics, a family making the median household income in West Virginia should pay at most $3,865.19 annually for child care to be considered affordable.

There are nearly 26,000 children under 6 who need but cannot access child care in West Virginia, according to Child Care Aware’s Mapping the Gap tool. 

Child care was expected to be a bipartisan issue during the 2024 legislative session with lawmakers and the governor calling for tax breaks following the end of pandemic era support for the industry.

Providers have been asking for their reimbursement model to change for years. As the program stands, providers are reimbursed based on a student’s daily attendance, rather than their enrollment.

Providers and advocates say reimbursement based on enrollment would make it easier to hire, train and retain staff with higher salaries and better hours.