October 23, 2019

Washington State On Top 10 List of Least Affordable Child Care – Again

TACOMA, WA – Oct. 23, 2019 – Washington has some of the least affordable child care in the country, ranking among the top 10 states for least affordable child care when median costs are compared to median incomes. Our state ranks as the second least affordable for care of an infant in a family home child care program, and sixth least affordable for infant care in a center. Washington ranks as the fifth least affordable state for child care for a toddler in a family home program and ninth for that care in a center. For care of a four-year-old, Washington ranks as the seventh least affordable for family home care and 10th least affordable for that care in a center. The rankings come from the newly released report “The U.S. and the High Price of Child Care, an Examination of a Broken System” from Child Care Aware of America.

This is the seventh straight year Washington has ranked on the top 10 list of states with the least affordable child care. Parents across Washington are struggling to afford child care when they can find it. A year of child care often costs more than a year’s tuition at public colleges, and some areas of the state have experienced significant reductions in licensed child care capacity. Most areas have scarce capacity for infant and toddler care. Waitlists of a year or more are common.

“We have not invested in our child care system at a level sufficient to meet demand. Clearly more investment is needed at the state and federal levels, and from the business community, which directly benefits from child care every day when working parents show up for work on time and ready to be productive,” said Ryan Pricco, director of policy and advocacy at Child Care Aware of Washington.

Washington’s child care crisis is costing businesses more than $2 billion each year in employee turnover and missed work due to child care issues, according to a new report from the Child Care Collaborative Task Force, “The Mounting Costs of Child Care.” It found the total cost to our state’s economy exceeds $6.5 billion annually. With the unemployment rate at a historical low, employers are increasingly operating with fewer employees than they need. Increased access to high-quality, affordable child care would allow more parents to enter and remain in the workforce, while simultaneously reducing some of the overall economic impact found in the Mounting Costs of Child Care report. It also would provide crucial early learning to children ages 0-5, the time when 90 percent of their brains develop.

Overall, the cost of child care compared to family income has risen during the past eight years. Since 2011, median household income has increased 18 percent, while median child care rates have increased between 19-22 percent for center-based care and 14-221 percent for family child care.2  Meanwhile the reimbursement rates the state pays to providers who accept children whose families use child care subsidies have not kept pace. Despite recent increases in these rates, the cost to provide quality child care continues to exceed the reimbursements providers receive for providing care for our most vulnerable children and families. For this reason, many providers accept only a few children at a time on subsidy, or none at all. This further restricts access to high-quality child care for low-income families.

As child care costs rise, the portion of income required to cover costs increases as well, leaving some families, especially single-parent families, facing tough choices about which bills to pay each month. This year, the median cost of caring for an infant in a child care center consumed a daunting 52% of the state median income for a single-parent family, up one percent from last year. This care consumes 15.3% of the median income for a married couple. It is not uncommon for child care to be the second most expensive monthly bill for young families, surpassed only by rent/mortgage costs.

Solving Washington’s child care crisis requires increased public, business and philanthropic investment in child care and early learning programs. Child Care Aware of Washington advocates for increased investment, both public and private, and for increased access to high-quality care. We work with providers to improve child care quality and help providers save time and money on the business side of their programs with our online business services portal Washington Child Care Business Edge.

Child Care Aware of Washington tracks child care supply, demand and costs statewide and in every county. Our data reports are available here: https://childcareawarewa.org/advocacy/#data.

Child Care Aware of Washington is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to connecting families to local, high-quality, licensed child care and early learning programs, and to supporting providers who deliver high-quality care. As a statewide network of six regional agencies, we work side-by-side with child care providers, offering professional development services and higher education scholarships to help providers integrate research-based, best practices into their programs. We are committed to ensuring that each and every child in Washington, regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, culture, primary language or economic status, has access to the quality care and early learning they need to succeed in school and life. For more information, please visit our website at http://wa.childcareaware.org and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Child-Care-Aware-of-Washington-149636987661/ and on Twitter @childcarewa.

Notes:

  1. Child Care Aware of Washington’s 2018 Data Report: Trends, Child Care Supply, Cost of Care & Demand for Referrals
  2. Washington State Office of Financial Management. Median Household Income, 2017 Projected. https://www.ofm.wa.gov/washington-data-research/economy-and-labor-force/median-household-income-estimates. March 2018

October 22, 2019

Deeann Burtch Puffert named to lead Child Care Aware of Washington

October 22, 2019 – Deeann Burtch PuffertThe Board of Trustees for Child Care Aware of Washington welcomes Deeann Burtch Puffert as Chief Executive Officer to lead the non-profit organization, in concert with its six regional partners, as it expands its services and advocacy for families throughout Washington and its commitment to preparing children for success in school and in life.

Puffert spent her entire professional career working on behalf of children, youth, families and providers in the not-for-profit sector.   For the past 34 years, she focused on the issue of early childhood education and has tackled many aspects of the challenges of affordability, accessibility, and quality by addressing workforce, economic and equity system improvements with a myriad of funders, national, state and community partners.

“Deeann’s many years of hands on experience in the early childhood education system, from stepping into a classroom to directing a resource organization, makes her the perfect person to take on the mantle of organizational leadership for CCA,” said Lois Martin, CCA WA Board of Trustees Co-Chair and Director of Community Day Center for Children, Seattle. “She drives organizational performance that results in outcomes for children.”

Puffert worked inside the CCA WA system for 30 years with the King & Pierce Counties regional partner, Child Care Resources (CCR). As CEO of CCR since 2009, Deeann led the organization’s development of a racial equity framework, services for children and families experiencing homelessness, the creation and expansion of Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups for children in informal care, and a team supporting child care providers in quality improvement efforts and professional development. Child Care Resources also operates the CCA WA Family Center which, last year, helped nearly 15,000 families throughout the state find early childhood education referrals and resources.

“The Board of Trustees recognizes Deeann’s exceptional knowledge of the early learning system in our state and is eager for her to lead CCA WA to further address Washington’s child care crisis with our partners,” said David McRae, CCA WA Board of Trustees Co-Chair and Vice President, Banner Bank.

Prior to employment at Child Care Resources, Puffert worked as a Program Director responsible for the overall management and operation of four NAEYC-accredited centers that served approximately 180 families.

“I am excited to move from my work that has a regional perspective to working with CCA of WA staff to continue their fine work. I also look forward to growing and developing new relationships and partnerships that will continue to move child care and informal caregiving into full partnership within the early learning landscape,” Puffert said.

Puffert joins Child Care Aware of Washington on December 2.

October 21, 2019

Washington’s Economy Takes a Hit Due to Child Care Crisis

TACOMA, WA – OCT. 21, 2019 – Washington’s employers incurred an estimated $2.08 billion in costs due to employee turnover and absenteeism caused by our state’s child care crisis, according to a new report out today. These costs, combined with the opportunity cost to employers for lost productivity and investment prospects, add up to an estimated overall hit to Washington’s gross domestic product (GDP) of $6.5 billion last year.

These findings are part of a new report from the Washington State Child Care Collaborative Task Force, created in 2018 by the state legislature to identify new ways to expand access to high-quality, affordable child care. The task force brings businesses, child care providers, parents and legislators together to focus on the importance of child care to our state’s economy. Multiple partners, including the Washington State Department of Commerce, the Association of Washington Business and Child Care Aware of Washington (CCA of WA), contributed to the report.

“At Child Care Aware of Washington we know working parents struggle to find quality, affordable child care, and we know child care providers struggle to keep their doors open. We also know that high-quality child care is extremely important for young children, who spend thousands of hours in child care each year while their brains are undergoing the most rapid phase of development. We are encouraged to see the legislature and new partners exploring ways Washington can alleviate the child care crisis,” said Ryan Pricco, director of advocacy and policy at CCA of WA.

Some key findings in the Mounting Costs of Child Care report:

  • 60% of Washington’s homes with children under age six have all adults working
  • 27% of parents quit their job or left school/training due to child care issues
  • 27% of parents changed their hours to part-time from full-time due to child care issues
  • 67% of Washington employers report absenteeism caused by child care issues
  • 9% of parents were terminated from work due to child care issues

“This report clearly shows more investment is needed in our state’s child care system. Right now only 1.1% of the state budget is for early learning and child care. Increased investment from the state and federal government, as well as from one of the primary beneficiaries of child care – the business community, would go a long way toward alleviating the child care crisis,” noted Pricco.

”Child care is not just a working parent issue, it’s an economic issue,” said Washington State Department of Commerce Director Dr. Lisa Brown. “In addition to hurting children and families, the lack of access to quality, affordable child care impacts employers, weighing on the economic vitality and growth that strengthens communities throughout the state.”

Parents of infants and young children across Washington struggle to find and afford high-quality, licensed child care, often paying more for child care than the cost of college tuition. Washington ranks on the top 10 list of states with least affordable child care for almost all types of care for children ages 0-5. The average cost of child care in our state for an infant and a preschooler in a center consumes 34 percent of the state median household income. The average cost of care for both children in a family home child care program consumes 27 percent of the median income. Overall, the cost of child care compared to family income has risen during the past six years. Since 2011, median child care rates have increased between 19-22 percent for center-based care and 14-22 percent for family child care,while median household income has increased just 18 percent.2

Solving Washington’s child care crisis requires increased public, business and philanthropic investment in child care and early learning programs. CCA of WA advocates for increased investment, both public and private, and for increased access to high-quality care. We work with providers to improve child care quality and help providers save time and money on the business side of their programs with our online shared business services portal Washington Child Care Business Edge. CCA of WA also tracks child care supply, demand and costs statewide and in every county. Our data reports are available here: https://childcareawarewa.org/advocacy.

Child Care Aware of Washington is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to connecting families to local, high-quality, licensed child care and early learning programs, and to supporting providers who deliver high-quality care. As a statewide network of six regional agencies, we work side-by-side with child care providers, offering professional development services and higher education scholarships to help providers integrate research-based, best practices into their programs. We are committed to ensuring that each and every child in Washington, regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, culture, primary language or economic status, has access to the quality care and early learning they need to succeed in school and life. For more information, please visit our website at http://wa.childcareaware.org and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Child-Care-Aware-of-Washington-149636987661/ and on Twitter @childcarewa.

 

Notes:

  1. Child Care Aware of Washington’s 2018 Data Report: Trends, Child Care Supply, Cost of Care & Demand for Referrals
  2. Washington State Office of Financial Management. Median Household Income, 2017 Projected. https://www.ofm.wa.gov/washington-data-research/economy-and-labor-force/median-household-income-estimates. March 2018

August 15, 2019

New Nationwide Child Care Data Center Coming Soon

Child Care Aware of Washington is participating with Child Care Aware of America and the University of Chicago’s NORC research institute in building a new data resource that will provide in-depth child care data for the entire country. The new project, called the Child Care Data Center, will provide rich and interactive data about the state of child care in the U.S.

Two staff members from Child Care of Washington have joined the advisory panel for this new data center, and Washington is one of nine pilot states. The data center is funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and should launch in March 2020. Once completed it will fill major gaps in what we know and quantify about child care across the country.

More information is available here.

May 22, 2019

Washington Parents Struggle to Juggle Work, Child Care, Family Finances

Parents of young children across Washington struggle to find and afford high-quality, licensed child care. Some areas of the state have experienced significant reductions in licensed child care capacity, while other areas grapple with child care costs that consume large portions of the median income. All areas contend with child care costs that often exceed the cost of college tuition and a state subsidy system that reimburses providers at rates that don’t cover the costs of providing high-quality care, leaving many low-income parents with few, if any, options.

Of Washington’s 39 counties, Whitman, Okanogan and Whatcom counties have the most expensive child care for an infant and a preschooler in a child care center, relative to median household incomes.1 This means that in those three counties the cost of child care for an infant and a preschooler in a child care center consumes between 39.5 – 51.9 percent of median incomes. The average cost of child care statewide for an infant and a preschooler in a center consumes 34 percent of the state median income.

Whatcom, Okanogan and Skagit counties have the most expensive child care for an infant and a preschooler in a licensed family child care home (FCC), relative to median household incomes. In those counties caring for both children consumes between 34.4 – 36.8 percent of median household incomes. Statewide the average cost of care for both children in a FCC program consumes 27 percent of the median income.

“At Child Care Aware of Washington we are working every day across the state to both increase access to child care and to help providers improve the quality of their care,” said Elizabeth Swanson, Interim Executive Director at Child Care Aware of Washington. “Clearly more investment is needed at the state and federal levels, and from the business community, all of whom directly benefit from the child care system every day when working parents show up for work on time and ready to be productive.”

The most affordable counties for child care in a center for an infant and a preschooler as a percentage of median household income are Kitsap, Mason and Island counties, where the cost of care for both children consumes between 30 – 30.7 percent of median incomes. For FCC programs, the least expensive counties are Clark, Kitsap and Thurston counties, where the costs of caring for both children consume between 23.6 and 25.3 percent of median household incomes.

Overall, the cost of child care compared to family income has risen during the past six years. Since 2011, median household income has increased 18 percent, while median child care rates have increased between 19-22 percent for center-based care and 14-22 percent for family child care.2

Several areas of the state have experienced declines in child care capacity, particularly in central WA and the Olympic Peninsula region. Jefferson County has seen a 28 percent decrease in capacity over the last six years, while Clallam County saw a 17 percent decrease. However, some counties are seeing recent increases in child care capacity, including King and Lewis Counties.

Despite the recent increase in capacity in some counties, there has been a general loss of family child care programs overall. This has reduced capacity for child care outside of normal weekday hours – care that is critical to several career fields including healthcare, public safety, travel, retail and hospitality. The percentage of overall capacity for evening, weekend and overnight care decreased from 13 percent in 2012 to only 10 percent in 2018.2

Meanwhile the reimbursement rates paid by the state to providers who accept children whose families use Working Connections Child Care subsidies have not kept pace. Despite recent investments provided by the government, the cost to provide quality child care continues to exceed the reimbursements providers receive for providing care for our most vulnerable children and families. For this reason, many providers accept only a few children at a time on subsidy, or none at all. This further restricts access to high-quality child care for low-income families. The legislature did increase these reimbursement rates for providers in the budget that passed April 28th, but not enough to fully cover the cost of quality care.

Washington ranks on the top 10 list of states with least affordable child care for almost all types of child care for all children ages 0-5, and for the cost of caring for a school-age child during the summer.3

A ReadyNation report released in January calculates the cost of America’s child care crisis is $57 billion annually in lost revenue, earnings and productivity.U.S. businesses lose approximately $4.4 billion each year due to employees missing work because of insufficient reliable child care.3  With the unemployment rate at a historical low, employers are increasingly operating with fewer employees than they need. Increased access to high-quality, affordable child care would allow more parents to enter and remain in the workforce.

Solving Washington’s child care crisis requires increased public, business and philanthropic investment in child care and early learning programs. Child Care Aware of Washington advocates for increased investment, both public and private, and for increased access to high-quality care. We work with providers to improve child care quality and help providers save time and money on the business side of their programs with our online shared business services portal Washington Child Care Business Edge.

Child Care Aware of Washington tracks child care supply, demand and costs statewide and in every county. Our data reports are available here: https://childcareawarewa.org/advocacy/#layout-accordion-1.

Child Care Aware of Washington is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to connecting families to local, high-quality, licensed child care and early learning programs, and to supporting providers who deliver high-quality care. As a statewide network of six regional agencies, we work side-by-side with child care providers, offering professional development services and higher education scholarships to help providers integrate research-based, best practices into their programs. We are committed to ensuring that each and every child in Washington, regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, culture, primary language or economic status, has access to the quality care and early learning they need to succeed in school and life. For more information, please visit our website at http://wa.childcareaware.org and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Child-Care-Aware-of-Washington-149636987661/ and on Twitter @childcarewa.

To view the notes, a statewide map and the full table of county comparisons, click here.

May 3, 2019

Child Care Provider Appreciation Day

Child Care Provider Appreciation Day is Friday, May 10. While it is important to share your appreciation for your provider every day, this is a special day for making sure child care providers everywhere feel appreciated for the important work they do.

There are many ways to thank your provider and show your appreciation. Here are a few ideas:

  • Have your child make them a special card or a poster
  • Drop off breakfast or lunch
  • Give a gift card
  • Bring a special treat
  • Write a nice note

Child care providers work very long days, and often are not compensated well. For most, child care truly is a labor of love. So please make sure to let your provider know how much you appreciate all they do for your child and family. After all, what would you do without them?

#ProviderAppreciationDay

May 2, 2019

Child Care Aware of Washington Play and Learn Group Featured on NW News Network

We are thrilled to have one of our play and learn groups featured in this excellent article from Northwest News Network. Child Care Aware of Washington’s Early Connections Play and Learn group is where young children can experience playing with peers and early learning while their families learn about child development and local resources. Read, or listen to, more here:

https://www.nwnewsnetwork.org/post/free-play-space-yakima-helps-families-crisis-relax-settle-smile?fbclid=IwAR2qlYWfMp-Xtbxuw1IVHfJfS8hpIRqioBB0DNX0z10YkE_41Z0QdoQqEls

May 1, 2019

Modest Gains for Child Care & Early Learning in the 2019 Legislative Session

Child care and early learning advocates and stakeholders saw modest gains this past legislative session that ended April 28. Lawmakers passed and funded several small steps forward that provide some stability for the child care market, but there is more to do to solve the child care crisis.

The new budget provides funding for:

  • Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) rates to be increased to the 55th percentile for Early Achievers Level 3 participants
  • Investment of $6 million into additional supports and professional development for Early Achievers programs
  • 1,100 new ECEAP (state-funded preschool) slots
  • An expansion of Family, Friend and Neighbor play and learn groups
  • The Early Achievers enhancements (HB 1391) and WA CAN Act (HB 1344) bills
  • The addition of 1,200 home visiting slots to increase access to high-quality early learning for families
  • $28.5 million to match private and other public funding to buy, build or modernize facilities to add capacity for early learning programs, including ECEAP and programs participating in Early Achievers

While Child Care Aware of Washington applauds these gains and thanks the legislature for this progress, we did not see significant progress in raising the wages of child care professionals nor in the homeless grace period extension, which would have provided up to 12 months of free licensed child care for young children experiencing homelessness. We will focus on these important goals this interim as we prepare for the next legislative session.

Thank you to all of our partners and to all of the providers and parents who advocated for expanded access to high-quality child care and early learning programs. Your voices made a positive difference for children and families this session.

April 1, 2019

Child Care Aware of Washington Welcomes New Interim Executive Director

Today we welcome Elizabeth Swanson as our Interim Executive Director. She brings nearly 30 years of nonprofit experience to Child Care Aware of Washington, and will serve during the transition as the organization identifies a new Chief Executive Director following the retirement of former CEO Robin Lester.

Liz has served major universities, public and private schools, social service agencies, community organizations and more. She also is an active volunteer and has served in organizations including the Rotary Club of Bellevue, Eastside Baby Corner and the Moyer Foundation. She earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management and is a graduate of Leadership Eastside. Liz currently is a senior associate with the Valtas Group.

Together with the Board of Trustees and staff leadership, Liz will lead Child Care Aware of Washington for the next several months as the group conducts the search for the new CEO. Please join us in welcoming Liz aboard!

February 26, 2019

Robin Lester, Chief Executive Officer of Child Care Aware of Washington, has announced her retirement effective the end of March. Congratulations Robin!

Robin served as the organization’s leader since August 2015 and brought a strong management and legal background to CCA of WA’s mission and work, always focused on positive change for families. Encouraging innovation, Robin advanced the organization’s strategic planning capacity, realized tremendous growth in our services to child care providers and in our family services programs, established Shared Business Services to assist child care providers, and established privately funded projects for Washington’s young children and their families in communities throughout the state. She contributed to the early learning system advocating for improvements and funding for child care programs and by influencing statewide policy on task forces and committees.

“It has been my privilege and great honor to serve as CEO for the last three-plus years. We currently have a dedicated, hard-working and talented leadership team and staff diligently working to ensure that families, children and providers receive quality resources and continual quality improvement for early learning care. I know that as I enter retirement Child Care Aware of Washington will continue to be Washington’s most trusted child care resource and I look forward to seeing the great advancements for children, both in kindergarten readiness and in every day quality early learning experiences.”