Members of the interim committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services chat before the final meeting. (Whitney Downard/Indiana Capital Chronicle)
The third and final meeting of the interim committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services concluded with a unanimous vote to approve a draft report of recommendations — though that report wasn’t yet available for public review.
Much of the final report focused on child care testimony from an August meeting, where stakeholders urged the legislature to address child care ‘deserts,’ invest in a comprehensive system and increase employee wages.
Sen. Ed Charbonneau warned that the upcoming session, set to start in January, wasn’t a budget session so recommendations didn’t include dollar amounts.
“In order to get recommendations that we need to be able to act on … an increase in funding couldn’t happen,” Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, said in committee Wednesday.
Specifically, lawmakers spoke about the limitations on the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF), which subsidizes care for families but often includes a copay that may cost more than the family can afford.
“I was approached by someone who has CCDF vouchers and … they can’t meet the copay requirements. Even if they could meet copay requirements, there aren’t enough providers that accept CCDF vouchers,” said Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis. “I think (Sen. Charbonneau, in the report) captured most of my concerns.”
Potential avenues for strengthening future child care funding could mean including child care as a part of local infrastructure — like roads and bridges — and allow economic development funds to be dedicated to that sector, especially to increase staff salaries.
“My takeaway from all the conversations I’ve been hearing about the current crisis is … it’s not just accessibility and affordability. There just aren’t people in these jobs. So many grants will pay for the program but the funds are not available to help address the issue of what people are taking home,” said Sen. Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington.
“I would love to see that (in the report) … we’ve captured so much here but that isn’t called out.”
Charbonneau, the co-chair of the committee, said he didn’t want the report to get too far into specifics.
The draft report also included a recommendation on the study of psilocybin, a Schedule 1 psychedelic, at research universities, though the committee voted to strike a sentence about its risk for addiction.
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