Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Phone calls, waitlists, frustration: Our state's child-care struggle is very real


Washington ranks in the top 10 in the nation for least affordable child care, according to a recent report from Child Care Aware of America. Parents with access to affordable, high-quality child care can go to work with peace of mind and achieve financial stability. Due to Seattle’s high cost of living, many families fall outside the eligibility limits for child care subsidies, but still struggle to afford child care in their area. Here’s how one local parent navigated these rough waters:


My name is Kenya and I’m a Seattle-area mom. I have been offered a marvelous opportunity to share my story about our family’s journey and struggle finding child care.


In the summer of 2017, our family moved into our first residence in SeaTac. My daughter would start kindergarten that fall, so I spent the summer searching for before and after-school child care.

During my search, I quickly came to the conclusion that our new neighborhood did not have enough child care, and what little child care there was, did not support my daughter’s school hours, which is important for the families who attend there. When I finally found child care that had a before- and after-school program, and that also did transportation to and from school, I was elated! It was like the heavens were singing! Sadly, this program ended before the school year even ended. The notice sent home to parents explained there was simply not enough funding to keep the program going. 

Fast-forward to my daughter starting first grade. I had zero luck finding child care this time.

My work schedule starts at 6:30 a.m., making it especially hard. Most child care facilities do not open until 6 a.m. I called countless centers and was added to numerous waitlists.

As the school year quickly approached, I became more and more concerned. After long days and nights trying to figure out what to do, whether or not to get a new job, my frustration reached a peak. I decided to ask my dad if he would be willing to help us in the morning. He agreed and now he gets her to school each morning. This makes our family one of the lucky ones because we have family to help. Not all families do. 

Thousands of families share similar child care stories like ours. We are struggling to find affordable child care. This is a big deal! It causes big losses for businesses — more than $2 billion each year in employee turnover and missed work — and for family livelihoods. When work gets, missed bills go unpaid. There is a ripple effect. 

Seattle has a sweetened-beverage tax of  $.0175 per fluid ounce. There is an abundance of funds brought in by the sugar tax that I feel could be used to help the child care crisis we face.