Let’s face it: Talking about our experiences is easy; remembering complicated facts and figures is not. It’s a problem that we all face as advocates.
Maybe one day you’re advocating for early learning – sharing a story about your experiences as a caregiver, parent or advocate. Because it’s a personal story, you already know what to say; you can speak from the heart. But then the dreaded question.
“But what’s the full impact? Is that the case state wide?”
You freeze. We all know the quick answer – the struggles facing child care are present everywhere. But it can be near impossible to remember the specific details for cities, counties, or communities that are not our own.
You do not need to be an expert to be an effective advocate. But having useful facts and figures in your back pocket can never hurt! So to help, throughout the next few months we want to share what works best for us. Stay tuned for all of the talking points, facts and figures we like to use in our advocacy work, so that you feel comfortable advocating too!
To start this series off, here’s our go-to guide for explaining the long-and-short version of the past 5 years’ childcare landscape.
Past Political Landscape
On May 7, 2021, in honor of Child Care Provider Awareness Day, Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5237 (the Fair Start for Kids Act, or FSFK Act) into law and set in motion a series of critical policy and budget changes to improve access to high-quality and affordable child care for families.
The FSFK Act created important policy changes that have allowed more families to afford high quality child care.
Poor retention of the child care workforce stands in the way of stabilizing – let alone expanding – the child care system in Washington State and across the country.
Supply has yet to meet demand. Many programs can’t afford higher wages, so hiring more staff to serve families is difficult.
Previous investments by the legislature have primarily focused on ensuring quality care for kids in licensed programs, reducing costs for families, and expanding access for communities. But failing to invest in the child care workforce has resulted in high turnover, empty classrooms, closed programs, and large numbers of entering kindergartners who are not ready for school.
Investments by the legislature have focused on quality for kids and affordability for parents. The child care workforce has been left behind.
The federal Inflation Reduction Act did not include provisions for additional child care funding, even though the House-passed version of the bill allocated nearly $400 billion for child care and preschool funding.
Without action from Congress, families and providers are counting on legislators in Washington State to act.