SMACNA is voicing its strongest support for H.R. 6377, the Apprentice-Related Child Care Act (ARCC) and is urging other Members of Congress to become co-sponsors of the legislation sponsored by Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX). The ARCC, which currently enjoys an additional 38 co-sponsors besides Mr. Cuellar, would set up a competitive grant program to award ten geographically diverse state grants. The stipends are paid directly to childcare providers serving apprentices and must be at least $500 per month, per dependent child. This long overdue federal apprenticeship support initiative meets a large and growing problem for our apprenticeship recruitment classes and addresses an emerging barrier for thousands of construction apprentices nationwide. The ARCC Act will expand access to apprenticeships and remove barriers to these highly successful apprenticeship programs by helping provide affordable childcare. The lack of adequate childcare is a huge reason why women are forced to leave the workforce early, and typically chose not to re-assimilate back into the workforce.
SMACNA applauds this innovative approach to tackling a growing challenge towards recruitment. During a time of widespread labor shortages, we will not reach peak workforce participation without addressing the childcare issue. Additionally, the lack of affordable childcare also negatively impacts our economy. Adequate and affordable child care is a barrier to many young people currently enrolled in an apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship program. The ARCC represents an essential step in assisting these individuals to advance their career goals and juggle their parental responsibilities.
Stan Kolbe, SMACNA’s Executive Director for Government and Political Affairs, lauded the provisions contained within the ARCC, “This proposal is a long overdue legislative effort to enhance and expand registered apprenticeship while responding to the nation’s severe and growing skilled labor shortage crisis. Helping responsible businesses and their workforce partners increase registered apprenticeship opportunities will better serve national construction quality and value on countless and highly complex federal and private projects.”