Investing in Washington’s kids and families is an investment in the future of our state. Currently, only half of kids in Washington are ready for kindergarten. Our state ranks 39th in the nation in access to preschool, and only 1.1% of the state’s budget goes to early learning programs. Nearly half of parents in our state struggle to find quality childcare. Of that, nearly a quarter of parents will quit their job or leave school because they can’t find quality childcare. The lack of high-quality childcare also impacts our economy. Employers lose $2 billion due to staff turnover while the state loses $6.2 billion in opportunity costs. To that end, legislators should focus this session on policies that build equity, create opportunities and help families. This includes:
Allocating $3 million to expand access to intensive home visiting.
Investing in WCCC (Washington Connections Child Care) including increasing the rates for infants and toddlers by more than 5%.
Allocating $1.4 million to ensure families experiencing homelessness have continued access to high-quality childcare.
Supporting the early care and education workforce by authorizing and funding community-based pathways that help workers attain credentials and professional development.
Allocating $6 million to ensure ECEAP can meet the needs of children and families.