Washington task force suggests policy changes for families struggling to afford child care

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A task force in Washington is recommending policy changes to help families struggling to afford child care, while simultaneously keeping the state’s child care industry afloat. 

More than 133,000 people statewide are kept from the workforce because they can’t afford child care, according to a report from the Washington Child Care Collaborative Task Force. In Spokane alone, roughly 30% of families lack those services. 

The pandemic hasn’t helped, according to Washington State Commerce Director Lisa Brown, who says women are leaving the workforce at more than four times the rate of men in order to stay home and care for their children during these difficult times. 

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Those are just some of the reasons the task force is suggesting the state take steps to help more parents qualify for child care subsidies. Those steps include eliminating the “cliff effect.” According to the task force, many parents have reportedly turned down pay raises in order to avoid paying more for subsidized child care. 

Additionally, the task force suggests the state restructure subsidy regions to consider factors like cost of living based on zip code. 

“Subsidies aren’t helpful if child care providers do not accept them,” said task force tri-chair Ryan Pricco, director of policy and advocacy for Child Care Aware of Washington. “Restructuring the state subsidy system to align better with the private pay market would make it financially viable for more providers to accept subsidies, opening more opportunities in more communities for families to find high-quality programs that meet their needs.”

The report shows employers would also benefit from more parents returning to the workforce. In fact, businesses statewide miss out on roughly $56.8 billion a year without those workers. 

To read the full report, CLICK HERE.

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