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Bellevue child care conversation

Photo by Dejan Dundjerski

Bellevue hosts child care conversation

Eastside leaders come together look at the impacts of care gap

A lack of childcare options, especially for children ages 0 to 5, has been a growing challenge for working parents throughout King County for decades. And it’s a problem getting worse by the year, as caregivers leave the industry and costs grow to prohibitive levels. 

That’s why the Bellevue Downtown Association (BDA) is tackling the issue in a public conversation on the morning of March 26. 

Discussion of health, well-being, inclusion effects of gap

During the event, community leaders will engage in a “discussion about the state of childcare in relation to workforce demands.” The conversation will look at how the lack of childcare options is impacting working parents and why these gaps in the childcare system are affecting workforce health, equity and inclusion, and the well-being of children.  

The goal, says Sandy Vo, BDA communications manager, “is to promote awareness about the impacts of childcare gaps going under the radar [and] help inform the audience of public and private-profit sector leaders to make decisions that’ll support better conditions for working parents and their children.”      

Too few providers, too high cost

Vo pointed to a recent article in The Seattle Times that noted, “There are fewer licensed childcare providers today than a decade ago, and the median monthly cost for an infant in a childcare center has climbed close to $1,600, according to Childcare Aware of Washington. That cost has soared past $2,000 in King County, equivalent to about 22% of the median income.” 

Child and family advocates continue to fight to help families afford quality child care.

Recent steps in the right direction

For example, applying for child care subsidies is often a complex and confusing process – and one that causes many families to miss out on the financial support they are entitled to, according to Dr. Stephan Blanford, executive of the statewide Children’s Alliance. During the 2024 legislative session, which ended March 7, a trio of bills passed this year that will simplify that process. HB 1945 and HB 2124 both make it easier for families to access Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) subsidies if they already qualify for certain food assistance or early education programs. HB 2124 also allows individuals who work in certain early learning programs to access subsidized care for their own children. Additionally, HB 2111 clarifies requirements to make the WCCC application process smoother. 

It’s progress, Blanford wrote in his legislative recap for Seattle’s Child, but more more needs to be done in the 2025 session.

The March 26 panel discussion in Bellevue will include leaders from a diversity of backgrounds, including:

  • Dr Kelly Aramaki, Ed.D, Superintendent in Bellevue School District
  • Tim Motts, President/CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue  
  • Phoebe Sade, CEO at BrightSpark Early Learning Services
  • Hon. Tana Senn, WA State House of Representatives

Register to participate

The BDA child care discussion starts will run from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Bellevue Club, 11200 SE 6th St, Bellevue, WA 98004. Registration is $70 for non-BDA members.

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