Biden to require chip manufacturers provide childcare. Experts say it matters how that’s enacted
The Biden Administration announced this week that some chip manufacturers who take federal funds will have to provide child care for their employees.
The move will likely impact Skywater Technology - a chip manufacturer that announced it will build a facility in West Lafayette.
Last year Congress passed the CHIPs Act, a bill that devoted $39 billion to bolster semiconductor chip manufacturing in the U.S.
This week, the Biden administration announced applications were open for the first round of funding. Manufacturers who request more than $150 million must provide their plans to guarantee affordable, high-quality childcare for workers.
Lauren Ray is a Clinical Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at Indiana University. She said the move is a step in the right direction – but worries about how the plan will be implemented.
“It’s easy to just say ‘provide childcare’, but we’re not talking about turning a conference room into a classroom,” she said. “There are environmental concerns about how to create early childhood classrooms that have the facilities that young children require to learn.”
According to reporting in the New York Times, chip manufacturers will be able to meet the requirement in a variety of ways – including building child care centers near plants, paying local childcare providers to expand, or subsidizing workers' childcare costs.
Ray said it matters which of those options is ultimately pursued.
“If it’s just vouchers again, you’re not necessarily increasing the number of childcare spots in a given community,” she said. “You’re not necessarily increasing families’ options. You’re taking care of that cost issue, which I’m sure is a relief, but you’re not increasing options and you’re not necessarily guaranteeing quality.”
Still, Ray said requiring employers to provide childcare is a good step.
“I don’t think it’s a perfect solution,” she said. “I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction of holding employers sort of responsible through these federal subsidies for maintaining the health and wellbeing of families.”
A spokesperson for Skywater Technology declined to comment, saying that “at this very early stage we do not know how that specific provision impacts our plans.”