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Child care forum

View discussion: “What will fix America’s child care crisis?”

Sens. Patty Murray and Katie Britt join KIDS COUNT's Lisa Hamilton in a discussion of solutions

Many parents in King County, like those in the rest of the country, struggle to meet their basic needs—to have enough food for their kids, cover rent, get the medical care they need, and even gain access to now ubiquitous tools like the internet that are necessary to access needed services. How to pay for child care is often a struggling family’s biggest conundrum.

A crisis for too many families

That means countless local parents are forced with the decision to stay home with their kids or go to work in the hopes of pulling out of poverty. 

According to the Data Resouce Center for Child and Adolescent Health, at least one parent in more than 12 percent of Washington families had to quit a job, turn a job offer down, or significantly change their job in 2022 due to lack of or problematic child care for their children aged 5 and younger. According to a survey by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the majority of the parents who stay home are female.

What is the solution to the crisis in child care, and what is being considered at state and federal legislative levels?

Join the community forum

Earlier this month Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., will stepped to the screen with Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, for a free, live-stream public forum on the topic. 

The virtual “What will fix America’s child care crisis?” forum was co-presented by The Seattle Times Education Lab and, the Alabama Education Lab. Seattle Times communities and politics reporter Daniel Beekman and Alabama Education Lab reporter Trisha Powell Crain will moderated the discussion.

Child care has been a central concern of Murray, who was born and raised in Bothell, since she entered the Senate in 1991 as a working mom of young children. Alabama’s Britt also began her legislative career as a parent of young children. Despite being in opposing parties, both believe there is a way to meet in the middle and ensure equitable, accessible child care for all families. 

A broken system

Hamilton shared takeaways and recommendations from the annual KID’S COUNT report, which in 2023 found that 13% of families had to change jobs due to child care issues and that shortcomings in the child care system had cost the country billions of dollars.

The introduction to the KIDS COUNT report summary does not paint a pretty picture: 

“America’s child care system is broken. Safe, reliable child care has largely been inaccessible and unaffordable for too many Americans. Disparities between who can and can’t afford child care reflect long-standing structural inequities in the United States. Shift workers, single parents, student parents and families of color are particularly affected by the failings of the child care system. Children are deprived of nurturing care, and caregivers are prevented from earning money to meet basic needs.”

KIDS COUNT recommendations

Study authors recommend that state and federal policymakers to the following to address the national child care crisis:

  • Federal, state, and local governments should invest more money in child care. State and local governments should maximize funding and strengthen regulations that increase funding for public prekindergarten and Head Start and streamline processes for qualifying for subsidies.
  • Public and private leaders should work together to improve infrastructure for home-based child care. Governments should increase access to startup and expansion capital for new home-based providers. Policymakers can dismantle obstacles to those looking to open these businesses and provide additional help to those currently in operation.
  • To help young parents, Congress should expand the federal legislation that serves student parents. Governments also can encourage higher education and business communities to reduce transportation challenges by co-locating child care at work and learning sites.

How to watch the discussion

Visit and scroll down to the video to watch a recording of the program. 

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