LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky legislature passed a bill last week that establishes a program for companies to supply child care services to employees in an effort to bring people back into the workforce.

House Bill 499 creates an Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership Fund, which, the bills says, will use money "appropriated by the General Assembly, contributions, gifts, or grants" to help employers contribute toward their employees' child care costs.

Mandy Simpson, chief policy officers with Metro United Way, said HB 499 "encourages employers to help employees make child care affordable by matching a benefit that they would provide."

"For example, if an employer were to say, 'We can give our employees who use child care $200 a month to support that cost,' the state could then match that $200 up to the full cost of care and really focusing on our low- and middle-income earners," Simpson said Tuesday.

The amount that is matched with state money is dependent upon the employees' household income. If that income rises above the the state's median, the matching contribution will fall in tune.

"If you make 100% of the state median income, the match from the state is 100% of what the employer provides up to the full cost of your child care service," Simpson said. "And then after that, it ramps very gently out so that you would receive a less amount if your income is above 100% of the state median income."

On March 30, the bill passed 86-4 in the House and then passed 33-3 in the Senate. It currently awaits Gov. Andy Beshear's signature before officially becoming law.

"It's meant for small- to medium-sized businesses," said Shelby Somervell, vice president of government affairs and communications at Greater Louisville Inc. "They can opt in to this program, and then if they're offering a child care stipend to their employees, as, you know, an attraction, retention effort, the state can match those funds up to a certain percent. So it's really going to help fill that gap of affordability that we have right now.

"This is not only going to help workers get back into the workforce by allowing them to have that affordability and access to child care. It's going to help businesses really retain talent, because I think so many people are going to find how valuable this is."

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