BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the high cost of childcare can exceed the take-home pay of a parent. Faced with this expense, some families choose to have one parent temporarily leave the workforce to stay at home to care for the child. This causes the stay-at-home parent to lose potential job seniority and professional development opportunities and creates a gap in the parent's work history that can increase the difficulty of re-entering the workforce. In addition, the stay-at-home child foregoes many developmental opportunities afforded by daily interaction with other children, which makes the child less likely to be fully prepared for preschool and kindergarten.
Further exacerbating the situation is the current shortage of available childcare for infants. For example, in the northeastern region of Oahu, from Waimanalo to Kahuku, only three programs are licensed to care for children under two years of age and the maximum total enrollment for those three programs is twenty-four children, compared to a combined enrollment of more than two-thousand students for all of the preschools in the region.
The legislature further finds that when a parent leaves the workforce, the family suffers from reduced income and the State foregoes the potential income tax revenue from that pay.
A state-run daycare program will help to prepare children for preschool and kindergarten, increase the number of people contributing to the workforce, and retain State income tax revenue from parents who would otherwise leave the workforce.
The purpose of this Act is to create a pilot program for a low-cost or no-cost daycare so that parents of young children can remain in the workforce while sending their children to daycare.
SECTION 2. (a) The executive office on early learning shall establish a three-year daycare pilot program for the children of working parents.
(b) The executive office on early learning shall develop standards and qualifications for participation in the pilot program, which at a minimum shall include:
(1) A requirement that no non-disabled parent of the child be unemployed;
(2) A requirement that enrolled children be less than three years of age or not old enough to qualify for enrollment in preschool;
(3) A maximum family income for eligibility for a child's enrollment in the pilot program; and
(4) Tuition and fees that are low-cost or waived.
(c) In determining the location of the daycare pilot program, the executive office on early learning shall consider districts where:
(1) Students have historically been underprepared for kindergarten;
(2) There is a greater demand for daycare enrollment than the existing organizations in the area can provide; and
(3) Facilities are available for use.
(d) The executive office on early learning shall submit reports on the pilot program to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular sessions of 2020, 2021, and 2022. The reports shall include:
(1) The status of implementing the daycare pilot program or a description of the program;
(2) The number of students enrolled each semester;
(3) A recommendation of whether the pilot program should be continued, expanded, reduced, or terminated; and
(4) Proposed legislation, if any.
SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $ or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2019-2020 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2020-2021 for the daycare pilot program for children of working parents.
The sums appropriated shall be expended by the department of education for the purposes of this Act.
SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2019.