By Melnda Munson
The Skagway Borough Assembly passed its second resolution aimed at stemming childcare insecurity. Resolution 22-16R, proposed by Assmblymember Reba Hylton, gives yearly stipends to licensed childcare providers with a minimum of 10 enrolled children.
Parent Alex Weddell spoke in favor of the legislation during citizens present.
“I had a very difficult winter. I had to pay an enormous amount of money out of pocket to hire a private sitter in the wintertime. I might have to do that again this fall when Dippers closes. I have no childcare for tomorrow, a Friday, a work day for me … I want to be here. I want to buy my home here. I want to be part of this community. But it is so hard already. There’s just already challenges living in Alaska and living in a remote community. But with the childcare crisis going on, it is next to impossible,” she said.
The resolution was discussed at two assembly and two finance meetings. The final vote was five to one, with Assemblymember Sam Bass dissenting.
“I think they should have to stand on their own, just like all the other businesses in town,” he said, noting that the grocery store and hardware store were also crucial to the community.
“I think what makes childcare different is that, as Alex was talking about, if we don’t have child care, we don’t have people that can go to work,” said Assemblymember Deb Potter.
“We’re already so low on employees all across the board.”
The new resolution sets aside an annual subsidy of $10,000 for childcare providers open at least five consecutive months and $25,000 for childcare providers open at least 10 consecutive months. Providers who receive a 2022 grant through Community Grant Funding (which will expire to childcare providers in 2023) are not eligible for 2022 funding through Resolution 22-16R.
Resolution 22-15R, also sponsored by Hylton, makes available two $100,000 grants for two start-up daycare centers. Those providers will not qualify for funding through Resolution 22-16R until four years after start-up.
Hylton described childcare as an integral part of the community, with Resolution 22-16R making childcare a line item on the budget which assembly members can adjust as needed.
“But what this resolution … does, it just puts it in writing. And it gives those childcare providers currently that are providing the service, and ones that potentially will come on, they can see how they can have a sustainable business plan with the help of the municipality funding them,” Hylton said.