A new report, complete with recommendations to the Legislature, has been released by a statewide task force that was formed to address a lack of child care in Washington. File photo

A new report, complete with recommendations to the Legislature, has been released by a statewide task force that was formed to address a lack of child care in Washington. File photo

Report outlines lack of child care in Washington

In King County, supply doesn’t meet demand for child care.

A new report, complete with recommendations to the Legislature, has been released by a statewide task force formed to address a lack of child care in Washington.

The report was penned by the Child Care Collaborative Task Force, which was formed in 2018 to recommend policies. Its mandate was extended through June 2021, with the goal of creating affordable and accessible child care for all Washingtonians by 2025. The report was delivered by the state Department of Commerce.

To put the issue into perspective, the state had an estimated 1.08 million children ages birth to 12, but in 2018 there was only enough space for around 178,700 children across the state, according to the report. This means there are fewer parents in the workforce, and more missed work, leading to lower productivity and lower economic gains.

Over the last five years, the state gained 3,000 child care spaces, but the population of children younger than 6 grew by almost 30,000, according to the report. There was consolidation too, with the number of child care providers shrinking.

A 2019 study estimated that a quarter of Washington parents with young kids had reduced to part-time work, and 18% quit due to child care issues. Employee turnover and missed work due to inaccessible child care was estimated at $2.08 billion in the state, according to the report.

Racial and ethnic disparities exist too. Last school year, only 40% of children of color arrived ready for kindergarten in the state’s six WaKIDS domains compared to 51% of white children. There’s a disparity of access to child care, preschool, health and other childhood services. Additionally, some 63% of Washingtonians live in a child care desert where capacity doesn’t meet demand.

In King County, child care providers dropped from more than 2,100 with space for 59,316 kids in 2013, compared to 1,939 providers with space for 63,846 kids by the end of 2017. But there are more than 127,500 kids younger than 5 countywide.

The report made 31 recommendations. These included suggestions to stabilize and support the child care workforce, providers and industry, increase employer supports for child care, streamline permitting and licensing and reduce disparities in child care.

The report found that part of the problem is found in the working conditions of child care employees, which are paid less than dog groomers on average. The report shows that early childhood education majors have the lowest projected lifetime earnings of all four-year college graduates.

Last year, 88% of the 529 child care providers in the state who were surveyed said low pay was a major reason it was hard to hire staff. More than 60% said their staff resigned from child care positions due to low pay. The report said offering staff health and dental insurance, retirement benefits, paid time off and other perks could help retain staff.

Less than half of Washington state child care providers said they give any of their employees health insurance, according to the report. Nearly 40 percent of early childhood educators and their families rely on public support programs like Medicaid and food stamps.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

School lunch. File photo
School district distributes thousands of extra meals amid pandemic

Congress hasn’t renewed the program, which provided twice as many student meals for free last spring.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

The Enumclaw Health and Rehabilitation Center, which is located by St. Elizabeth hospital, a senior living community, and a nursing home. File photo
Inslee lifts visitation ban at long-term care facilities

Starting Wednesday, a four-phase plan will allow restrictions at nursing homes to gradually be relaxed.

Screenshot from Gov. Jay Inslee’s press conference on Aug. 5, 2020.
Inslee says schools in virus hot spots should stay closed

King County among high-risk counties; several school districts will have remote learning in the fall.

King County Election headquarters in Renton on Aug. 4 for the primary election. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Inslee and Culp lead governor race; incumbent Dems ahead for Congress | Statewide results

Early results for governor, state schools chief, attorney general and more.

Democrats dominate King County legislative races | Election results

Here are the latest results for King County legislative candidates in the… Continue reading

Primary election 2020: Who will emerge as Inslee’s challenger?

Voting ends Tuesday in an election without big rallies and fund-raisers and face-to-face debates

Sex ed, local control at heart of race for WA state schools chief

Incumbent Chris Reykdal faces five foes who argue he’s pushing too many state policies on school districts.

Kent man charged with Seattle murder

July 21 at a motel along Aurora Avenue North

Screenshot from Gov. Jay Inslee’s press conference July 23, 2020.
Governor tightens restrictions on restaurants, bars, weddings, funerals

Staff reports Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday (July 23) he is… Continue reading

Abortions could stop at Virginia Mason if merger is approved, reproductive rights advocates say

Hospital representatives said “certain services” would cease, but wouldn’t give specifics.