Arizona advocates applaud child care requirement accompanying CHIPS Act money

As Arizona becomes one of the semiconductor capitals of the world, companies will compete for billions of dollars from the CHIPS Act.
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 11:37 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Companies that manufacture semiconductors will soon compete for billions of dollars in federal funding from the CHIPS Act as the nation races to increase production of the components that are in just about everything from phones to washing machines. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, companies that receive at least $150 million in funding will have to provide child care for their employees, including construction workers who build the facilities.

“They can choose how they provide it, but it has to be high quality and reliable,” said Ronnie Chatterji, the CHIPS implementation coordinator for the Biden Administration. “You’re going to have more diverse employees to choose from, a larger labor supply pool to choose from, and in a time when unemployment is really low and it’s a challenge to find workers in key industries, this just makes economic sense.”

It’s unknown which companies will apply for CHIPS Act funding, but applicants will likely include businesses like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which is investing $40 billion into new facilities in Phoenix. “[TSMC] provides child care facilities back in Taiwan, so this is an opportunity that the whole semiconductor industry has embraced around the world. It’s something we’re going to do here in the U.S. as well,” Chatterji said.

The company’s fabs happen to be in a so-called child care desert, where there aren’t enough child care facilities for the number of children who live in the area. “We’ve needed child care,” said Kylie Barber, the early childhood policy director for the Children’s Action Alliance in Arizona. “It’s been an urgent issue, even prior to the pandemic, but as we’re thinking about these factories opening up — these employees coming — we’re just questioning where they’re going to put their children because of this child care desert that we are currently facing. So the initial reaction is we support it and we like it and we want to collaborate to see how we can make this happen.” According to Barber, 50% of Arizona is in a child care desert.

While the child care requirement is limited to one industry, advocates are hopeful other industries will take note because child care challenges are costly for all Arizonans. The U.S. Chamber Foundation estimates Arizona loses $1.77 billion every year because of child care issues. That’s $348 million in lost tax revenue and $1.42 billion dollars in losses to Arizona employers because of employee absences and employee turnover.