Childcare advocates ask Washington lawmakers to invest more in childcare

Childcare advocates ask Washington lawmakers to invest more in childcare

Childcare professionals are asking the Washington Legislature to invest more money in childcare.

Many facilities claim they are strapped for cash because of the increase in minimum wage.

Childcare advocates are hoping lawmakers will provide help by investing $80 million into childcare over the next two years. Childcare facilities say as the minimum wage has increased, so has the cost of operations, and they want to avoid putting that additional cost on families.

“We already had issues compensating our teachers,” said Luc Jasmin III, a co-owner of the Parkview Early Learning Center. “And I mean, these are teachers who have college degrees and certificates and we’re paying them, you know, $11 an hour or $10 an hour.”

Currently, the state offers a childcare subsidy called Working Connections, which helps families pay as much as $200 less per child each month. Advocates hope lawmakers will invest more in childcare subsidies for facilities.

“I think as a community, we need to come together and decide that this is an important issue for us, that we’re going to support it,” said Lee Williams with Child Care Aware of Washington. Child Care Aware of Washington is an organization that fights for quality childcare for working families.

Many families said they do not qualify for state help, meaning the cost of childcare comes out of pocket. Some said an increase in tuition is something they can’t afford.

“I’ve got a job, I’ve got school,” said Gordon Smith, whose daughter goes to Parkview Early Learning Center. “My wife also works full-time, so having a place where we can drop off our daughter and trust everyone is extremely important.”

Child Care Aware of Washington said this issue is about getting lawmakers to make the state pay its fair share of childcare costs.

“If we ultimately don’t make this a profession that people can be in and earn a living, then long-term this will continue to be a problem, so we need to figure it out,” Williams said.

Child Care Aware of Washington said $80 million over two years in subsidies would help childcare facilities offset the costs of the rising minimum wage, and build a sustainable industry.

“I think it’s very important that our community speaks up and really tries to help legislators know that Working Connections is important,” said Jasmine.

Child Care Aware of Washington said as the cost of childcare has increased, the increase in household income in Washington State has not increased as quickly, which is why help from the state is so important.