Child Care Scholarship Reforms Make a Big Difference for Maryland’s Economy

Baby looking at his piggy bank.

A new MFN commissioned report from the Maryland Center on Economic Policy (MDCEP) finds that reforms to the Maryland Child Care Scholarship Program, enacted by the General Assembly over the last six years, have made a big difference in the lives of children and their families. Those reforms include expanding eligibility for the program, improving payment rates, and eliminating copays.

The biggest difference is that the Scholarship Program now serves more than twice as many children than in 2018 – more than 30,000. It’s estimated that nearly 12,000 women were able to gain employment thanks to now having access to child care, translating to as many as 8,800 Marylanders lifting themselves out of poverty. Between the earnings boost from increased employment and families’ cost savings, the expansions may have raised annual household spending by up to $127 million and generated up to $27 million per year in state and local tax revenue.

“Child care is important for Maryland families and our state’s economy. For every dollar we invest in early childhood education, we're not just giving kids a head start. We're fueling our economy and building a brighter, more sustainable future for Maryland,” Christopher Meyer, Research Analyst at MDCEP and the report's author.

With an average price tag of $14,500 for a 2–5-year-old or $20,800 for an infant in center based programs, child care has long been out of reach for many families. That was made worse for families given that, prior to the reforms begun in 2018, Maryland had one of the worst child care scholarship programs in the country. Long waiting lists, low payment rates, high copays, and income limits that were set too low, meant that families couldn’t get the assistance they needed to pay for care.

“The changes that have been made to our Child Care Scholarship Program have moved Maryland out from the back of the pack. But we can’t stop now. Maryland should be the leading example in any national conversation about investing in children and in the child care that sets them on the course to success in life,” said Laura Weeldreyer, Executive Director, Maryland Family Network. 

Download Child Care Expansions Are Making a Difference for Maryland’s Economy for full details.