Child Care Aware of Washington commends Governor Inslee and his leadership at the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), for not vetoing most child care-related bills or budget investments made during the 2020 Legislative Session. As the Governor has said, “child care workers are a crucial support system in this struggle…they go to work at great risk to their health…”. Child care educators are putting themselves at great risk to care for children of essential workers, many of whom will be exposed to COVID-19. They are opening their doors for families despite the fact that nearly all of them do not have access to health care, they suffer from poverty wages, and have no access to protective supplies or testing. Ensuring that recent investments, such as increased rates for providing care, expanding the time families with young children experiencing homelessness can receive care at no cost to them, and providing more pathways for educators to meet state standards, will help ensure that not only will child care be there for our essential workers today, but will be there for everyone when we all go back to work!
We thank the Governor and DCYF for making this crucial first step, and we call on all policymakers to do more. So far over 1,000 child care programs have closed due to the pandemic, reducing the state’s total child care capacity by nearly 30%. Most child care programs across the nation are reporting their business will not survive a shutdown as long as Washington is experiencing. Policymakers at all levels of government must do all they can now to ensure that a huge reduction in child care does not prevent our state and country from realizing economic recovery when the time comes.