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Council considers new tax credit for home-based day care providers in Frederick County

Frederick News-Post - 10/28/2023

Oct. 27—The Frederick County Council is considering a bill that would establish a tax credit for home-based day care providers serving children, adults with disabilities or senior citizens in Frederick County.

The bill proposes a tax credit of up to $3,000 for property owners looking to make additions or modifications to homes out of which licensed day care programs operate.

Property owners could benefit from the day care provider tax credit in addition to other homeowner tax credits, as long as the combined tax credit amount does not exceed the net county property tax.

The tax credit could be applied to a given property for up to five consecutive years/ It would not be transferable if the qualifying property changes hands.

The proposed bill also authorizes the county treasurer to adopt guidelines, regulations and procedures for the administration of the tax credit.

In an interview on Friday, Councilwoman Renee Knapp referenced a 1987 state law that authorizes counties to grant a credit against the county property tax when a homeowner upgrades a home that contains a dedicated day care center.

Day care providers could use the tax credit to offset the cost of bringing their home into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The tax credit could also help providers afford additional restrooms or other improvements.

Knapp said the tax credit bill is just one of the ways the council is looking to address the need for more child care in Frederick County and help caregivers, particularly women, return to the workforce.

Preliminary results from a child care market study led by the Frederick County Office for Children and Families show that available home-based child care slots are declining. The northern part of the county is disproportionately affected.

The shortage of day care spots, particularly for babies and toddlers, is expected to worsen as private providers pivot to offering prekindergarten services in an effort to help meet goals outlined in the Blueprint for Maryland's Future.

According to a July report from the Maryland Association of Counties, nearly 7,000 children in the state of Maryland are expected to lose access to their day care services as a result of "the looming child care cliff."

"If Frederick County can provide incentives for home-based providers, that will reduce the stress for working families and help with children being prepared to enter school," Knapp said on Friday.

Knapp said a tax credit for home-based day care providers could help expand the options available for seniors and adults with disabilities as the county transitions from an institutional model to a service coordination model of care.

In an email on Friday, Council Legislative Director Ragen Cherney wrote that Knapp's tax credit bill is scheduled to be introduced during the County Council's regular meeting on Nov. 7.

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