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Single mothers now poised to fuel Arizona’s economic recovery with passage of affordable child care bill

TUCSON, Ariz. (April 28, 2021) – The Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona (WFSA) reached a monumental achievement within state legislation with the passing and signing of HB 2016 supporting child care assistance, education, and training.  Governor Ducey signed the bill on April 28, 2021, a week after the bill passed with a 25-3 vote on the Arizona State Senate floor.  The bill was sponsored and supported by Representative Michelle Udall for the past two years.

This new legislation was created after research from WFSA and the University of Arizona recognized that in order to achieve economic independence, accessibility to child care for parents and caretakers, especially single mothers, was key.

Research demonstrated that at least 33,000 single mothers in the Arizona labor force could benefit from postsecondary education coupled with child care; however, due to child care benefit work requirements and the exorbitant cost of childcare in Arizona, parents and caretakers faced often insurmountable obstacles when they considered attending educational programs to enhance employment opportunities.

The research also found that the lack of postsecondary degrees substantially limits job prospects and earning potential, leaving families to rely on public assistance benefits. With the average cost for center-based child care at over $800 per month, forfeiting child care benefits leads to huge financial burdens and stress for Arizona families, especially single mothers. This was especially true in 2020, when single mothers lost 32 years of employment gains as a consequence of the pandemic.

This new law means that later this year, the Department of Economic Security (DES) will be able to waive the current work requirement and continue to provide child care subsidies to parents and caretakers who enroll in a full-time accredited educational institution, education activities, or employment training programs and already receive full-time child care assistance. Child care support as part of workforce training and education is critical in helping parents and caretakers obtain employment that provides a livable wage. 

While WFSA focuses on achieving social, economic and political change to specifically support women and girls in Arizona, the organization is excited about the potential of HB 2016  benefiting all Arizonans.

“Our vision is that when women thrive, our entire community prospers,” said Dr. Amalia Luxardo, CEO of WFSA. “This legislation is a perfect example of that vision in action – we set out to solve a problem for 33,000 single mothers and as a result, parents and caretakers across Arizona will now have accessibility to childcare subsidies while pursuing education on their path to self-sufficiency.”

The positive impact of HB 2016 goes beyond the single mothers and their families who will directly benefit from this change. With more Arizonans earning additional education and workforce training, employers will have a larger talent pool of potential employees. Additionally, the state saves nearly $20,000 per year, per family, for parents and caretakers who no longer need public assistance.

“I extend tremendous gratitude for the advocacy efforts of members in our Women’s Issues Network (W.I.N.) who championed this bill over the past few years. They’ve helped change the lives for thousands of women and girls in Arizona,” said Luxardo.

The entire bill can be read at https://www.azleg.gov/legtext/55leg/1 /bills/HB2016H.pdf