There's a childcare shortage in Oklahoma, and it's pulling parents out of the workforce. It's an issue across the country, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and United WE both doing research on its impact to workforce.
Much of Oklahoma is a childcare desert. More than half of Oklahomans do not have close access to a childcare center. As Oklahoma has grown, the number of childcare facilities within its borders has plummeted. The Sooner State's population grew from 3,751,351 in 2010 to an estimated 4,019,800 in 2022. But childcare facilities in the state fell from a robust 4,000 locations in 2012 to only 2,954 in 2021.
Even if a parent is lucky enough to have a childcare facility nearby, they still have to afford it, and that cost is a tough nut to crack. Oklahoma is one of the top 10 costliest childcare states, with families spending 6.9 percent of their income on childcare in 2020.
It's no wonder that many parents have to leave the workforce to watch after their young children.
The SB 1063, known as the Childcare Receives Investment from Business (CRIB) Act, by Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, and House Bills 2451 and 2452 by Rep. Suzanne Schreiber, D-Tulsa, each work to remedy the childcare shortage.
The CRIB Act and HB 2451 give tax credits to employers who either expand or establish childcare facilities or provide financial assistance to employees for childcare. HB 2451 also helps keep childcare centers fully staffed by providing a tax credit to childcare workers.
HB 2452 codifies that childcare facilities licensed by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) are not subject to stricter local regulations, effectively streamlining regulations concerning the licensing of childcare facilities and ensuring centers operate safely and efficiently.