State leaders look at making childcare more affordable, accessible

State leaders look at making childcare more affordable, accessible

For working parents, finding daycare for your kids is half the battle. Finding the money to pay for it is the other — and that’s becoming more and more difficult for families in Washington, which is home to some of the country’s most expensive childcare rates.

Just ask single mom Brianna Nowatchik.

“You have to work in order to make ends meet, in order to pay for childcare. But if you can’t find that childcare, you can’t go to work to be able to afford it,” she said. “Every daycare I’ve called has a waiting list and they are months and months out.”

Nowatchik works full-time to provide for her two sons. Her eight-year-old is in daycare — she wishes she could say the same for her two-year-old.

According to a report from Child Care Aware, on average in Washington, having an infant in a childcare center takes up about 15 percent of a married couple’s median income. It’s more than triple that for single moms, at 51 percent. That report shows Washington ranks in the top ten for the country’s most expensive childcare rates.

But state leaders are looking at a new bill, introduced on Friday by Rep. Kristine Reeves (D) of Federal Way, that would cap childcare costs at 7 percent of a family’s income. The bill, called the Childcare Access Now (CAN) Act, also seeks to competitively pay childcare employees and bring universal childcare access to the state by 2025.

Data from Child Care Aware shows over the span of five years, Washington’s population grew by more than 400,000, but the capacity of child care providers grew by 3,000 children.

As a mom affected by rising childcare costs and reduced access, Nowatchik is ready for change — no matter how long it takes to get there.

“It’ll be worth it in the end,” she said.

The CAN Act still needs to pass through the state house and senate before it’s signed into law.

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