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Idaho governor eyes more daycares to solve worker shortage

Idaho Gov. Brad Little says he wants to use federal coronavirus relief money to increase day care capacity to help alleviate the state's worker shortage.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Gov. Brad Little says he wants to use federal coronavirus relief money to increase day care capacity to help alleviate the state's worker shortage.

The Republican governor in a speech Tuesday about the future of work said expanding day care could help get more workers back in the workforce. 

Little didn't offer any numbers, but the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has requested $100 million in its 2022 budget that lawmakers will consider during the next regular legislative session starting in January. 

Idaho's current unemployment rate of 2.9% puts the state back at pre-pandemic levels last seen in early 2020. But many employers can't find workers to fill jobs.

Experts have warned that Idaho's childcare system is in "crisis," with a recent study conducted by the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children found that 91 % of child care providers in the state of Idaho are experiencing staffing shortages.

Daycare owners say they are having a hard time raising wages to a competitive level to keep their staff, without raising daycare prices for parents already struggling to make ends meet.  

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