Tacoma-based Child Care Aware of Washington (CCA) recently gathered child care educators from around the state to discuss solutions to the state’s current child care crisis. The organization’s agenda for the upcoming 2023 session of the Washington State Legislature grew from that conversation.
The organization announced it’s goals for the legislative session, which begins January 9, this week.
A workforce in crisis
According to CCA, child care workers continue to struggle from the economic impacts of pandemic losses, especially as federal and state relief programs sunset. The advocacy organization estimates that Washington lost 10% of its child care workforce in the first two years of the pandemic. The poverty rate among child care workers in Washington is high as workers rank in the third percentile of all occupational wages statewide.
Child Care Aware’s agenda pushes lawmakers to pass the state Department of Children, Youth and Families request for new funding and policies in 2023 as well as recommendations of the Child Care Collaborative Task Force which was launched in 2018 to address questions of high worker turn over and low quality in child care settings.
Keep moving forward
“Washington’s legislature has taken bold and impactful steps towards building one of the best child care systems in the nation.” says CCA of Washington’s Director of Policy and Advocacy Ryan Pricco. “The Early Start act created effective quality assurance for families and the Fair Start for Kids Act provided critical relief to families struggling to afford child care.
“However, the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare that these bolstered pillars can’t realize their full potential without a strong base to support, and for child care, that base is our workforce,” says Pricco. “Solutions called forth by DCYF’s decision package and the early educator legislative agenda provide the most effective vehicles for the legislature to continue building on our progress and stabilize a child care workforce that our state’s economy so heavily relies upon.”
2023 agenda for lawmakers
Child Care Aware of Washington’s 2023 legislative agenda has four points:
- Approve the recommendations from the Child Care Collaborative Task Force to raise Working Connections rates to the 85th percentile of market rates and require state Department of Children, Youth and Family Services to develop an implementation plan for ensuring living wages for all child care educators
- Expand Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation for child care programs: $4 million
- Fund DCYF’s Decision Package (funding request) to streamline Working Connections Child Care program eligibility for families and provide more resources for programs
- Expand Play & Learn Groups for family, friend and neighbors caring for young children.
To learn more and take action toward stabilizing the Washington child care workforce by sending a personal message to lawmakers, go to the Child Care Aware of Washington website action page.