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Child care cost rises, families call for change

Child care cost rises, families call...

Families in Washington are having to choose between daycare and their jobs, with the rising cost of child care in our state.

Some blame that on the increase in minimum wage, but, the child care centers say it's more complicated than that.

Now, people are calling on the legislature to do something about these child care problems.

At Sen. Michael Baumgartner's town hall meeting last Saturday, one child care center owner called on him to address the situation.

Child care centers say they are struggling not just because minimum wage went up, but also because state reimbursements aren't keeping up.

Another child care center owner told KXLY, it is creating a domino effect for families in the community.

Kids at Green Gable Children's Learning Center would never know the bureaucratic turmoil that surrounds their care, set off by an increase in the state's minimum wage.

"Obviously you're going to have to raise your rates to your families to help offset the increase in cost," explained owner Rebecca Lee.

And parents at child care centers all over the area are dealing with the increases.

"We've already seen an increase in my daughter's childcare which puts in a little of a strain, less funds at home for whatever we need, whether it be food, bills, or even just fun stuff," said Gordon Smith in an interview with KXLY last week, whose daughter attends Parkview Early Learning Center.

While some parents are forced to pay more, others simply can't afford to, and child care centers say the amount the state reimburses them for those kids simply hasn't kept up.

"The families that are supported through subsidy do not have a rate increase and the state never raised what is called the subsidy reimbursement," Lee explained.

Now, Green Gable can no longer accept additional students with subsidies, explaining, "oftentimes we will add to the availability of those slots, and we just can't afford to do that anymore."

And Green Gable isn't the only one.

Rebecca believes this is creating a ripple effect for everyone in the community

First, for her workers. 

"You run the risk of losing some really fantastic teachers because you are now paying inexperienced folks to come in at the same rate as someone who has worked their way up," she said.

Most importantly for parents.

"Oftentimes, sadly, it falls on...single moms who have to make other arrangements for children because they can't find an early learning center that has subsidy spots," Lee said.

And, for families who don't qualify for state assistance, but still have a tight budget. Some parents may choose to drop out of the workforce if the cost of their childcare keeps going up.

Finally, Lee believes it will negatively impact the children who are not in early learning child care, because they may not be kindergarten ready when it's time to start K-12 school.

A group called Child Care Aware of Washington is now calling on the legislature to fund the cost of child care by investing $85.5 million into the child care reimbursement program.