Even though Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, says government should not provide child care and had criticized Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, for promoting such action, Niel-son too has decided to co-sponsor a child-care bill.

He signed onto the Child Care Services Improvement Act, which would provide tax credits for low-income families to help pay for child care - even if one parent stays home. It also would provide a block grant to states to use as they choose to improve the supply and quality of child care.It is sponsored in the House by Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn., and by Hatch in the Senate.

Nielson said, "There is a growing feeling that Congress will do something on child care this year . . . While I firmly believe the private sector should bear the responsibility for providing child care, the earned income tax credit measure is a far better alternative than other bills that carry in them the heavy involvement of the federal government in child care."

He adds, "This bill preserves parental choice and limits federal intervention while it seeks to expand the supply and quality of child care and increase the buying power of low-income parents."

Ironically, Nielson recently told a Utah County Republican convention that he disapproved of Hatch's various child-care legislation and that individuals should be responsible themselves for finding such care. He urged those who agreed with him to write Hatch and say so.

Hatch said he received "very few" letters.

Hatch has come under fire from right-wing conservatives - who are normally his allies - for negotiating with liberal Democrats trying to develop a compromise child-care bill that will pass both houses and be signed by the president.

Conservatives worry that could lead to requiring all day care to be licensed - eliminating care by families and churches - and force all centers to meet federal standards.

Hatch has said the Hatch-Johnson bill, which Nielson is now supporting, is likely the bill most close so far to what he expects the final compromise to be.