May 1, 2023

2023 Legislative Session Recap

First Up: TAKE ACTION to keep our momentum going forward

(English / Spanish)

The 2023 Legislative Session has officially come to a close! Thanks to the dedicated advocacy of child care providers, parents and supporters like you, Washington continued to make important investments into children, families and child care providers. 

Washington’s budget writers faced a tough economic landscape in 2023 – thank you for all of your work in helping them learn why early learning is still a worthwhile investment. This year, Washington invested more than $400 million into early learning.

2023 Breakdown:

Here’s our breakdown of the newly-passed budget, and a few additional bills that impact our early learning system:

  • Increasing Working Connections Child Care reimbursement rates to the 85th percentile: fully funded (over $400M for centers and FCCs)
  • Early Educator Design Team Living Wages Proviso: $533k
  • Family, Friend & Neighbor Caregiver Play & Learn group expansion: $440k
  • Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) expansion: $500k
  • Working Connections Child Care eligibility for providers, undocumented children, and families involved in therapeutic courts (SB 5225): $13.27M
  • Elimination of background check fees for child care providers (SB 5316): $3.14M
  • Non-standard hour rate enhancement: $4.724M
  • Extension of supports to access Working Connections Child Care for families experiencing homelessness: $908k
  • Equity grants for child care providers: $5.248M
  • Complex needs fund: $15.4M
  • Working Connections Child Care eligibility for apprenticeships (HB 1525): $2.7M
  • Early learning workforce programs (peer mentoring): $500k

Questions about any of 2023’s investments or child care bills? Shoot us an email : BUTTON

Your impact:

Together, our actions made a difference for the early learning community’s 2023 priorities. Throughout legislative session:

  • 1200 advocates took the time to add their name to an advocacy sign on letter in support of bills and budget measures that support families and providers
  • More than 4,500 emails were sent to legislators in defense of our budget and bill priorities.
  • 162 new advocates joined our growing movement

Final Thoughts:

We know how important continuing political change is towards a better tomorrow. But none of these victories matter without the hard working child care providers who continue to give safe and high quality education to our children day after day. Provider Appreciation Day is May 12th, 2023. Don’t forget to visit to see how YOU can thank child care providers for the important work that they do.


Take 60 seconds to add your name to our letter urging city and county governments to recognize the important role of child care providers in our community! (English / Spanish)

March 2, 2023

Talking Points: Past Political Landscape

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

Long Version

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.

Short Version

The FSFK Act created important policy changes that have allowed more families to afford high quality child care.

Long Version

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.

Short Version

Supply has yet to meet demand. Many programs can’t afford higher wages, so hiring more staff to serve families is difficult.

Long Version

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.

Short Version

Investments by the legislature have focused on quality for kids and affordability for parents. The child care workforce has been left behind.

Long Version

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.

Short Version

Without action from Congress, families and providers are counting on legislators in Washington State to act.


December 14, 2022

Press Release: 2023 Legislative Agenda Targets Child Care Crisis

Contact: Ryan Pricco, Director of Policy and Advocacy
Mobile: 253-267-4966


Child Care Aware of Washington releases legislative agenda with focus on child care workforce

Tacoma, WA – Over the last several months, Child Care Aware of Washington (CCA of WA) convened a representative group of child care educators from around the state to develop a proposal to address the child care crisis. Their voices informed the organization’s 2023 Legislative Agenda, which calls forward the need to provide urgent and critical relief for the child care workforce in Washington.

The organization’s 2023 agenda identifies and requests strategic investments to shore up a workforce that has long struggled since before the pandemic, and continues to struggle as important federal and state relief programs sunset. Washington lost 10% of its childcare workforce throughout the pandemic, and child care workers in our state rank in the 3rd percentile of all occupational wages.

See the details of our Legislative Agenda

CCA of WA’s agenda supports DCYF’s decision package (state agency request for new funding and/or policies), the recommendations of the Child Care Collaborative Task Force, and lays the foundation for a child care system that is high-quality, affordable, and accessible for all of Washington’s families.

“Washington’s legislature has taken bold and impactful steps towards building one of the best child care systems in the nation.” says CCA of WA Director of Policy and Advocacy Ryan Pricco. “The Early Start act created effective quality assurance for families and the Fair Start for Kids Act provided critical relief to families struggling to afford child care. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare that these bolstered pillars can’t realize their full potential without a strong base to support, and for child care, that base is our workforce. Solutions called forth by DCYF’s decision package and the early educator legislative agenda provide the most effective vehicles for the legislature to continue building on our progress and stabilize a child care workforce that our state’s economy so heavily relies upon.”

CCA of WA is a non-profit organization that works to ensure that every child in our state has access to high-quality child care and early learning programs.

May 4, 2022

Thank You Child Care Providers and Caregivers!

Dear families, caregivers, child care providers, and people of Washington,

This Friday, May 6th, we celebrate Provider Appreciation Day and the adults in Washington who care for young children ( I always smile on this day, because I remember being a center director who felt the love of the children and families I served on this day each year. In fact, I still have one of the appreciation gifts I received over 30 years ago (see pictures). This was a simple gift and one I have carried with me as my career has unfolded.

I hope you will agree that these critical educators have been essential to families, communities, and our economy long before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, but the past few years have highlighted just how important they are in our daily lives. Child care providers keep our children safe, nurture their growing skills and talents, and help to prepare them for school and life. As families navigated new challenges in juggling work demands during pandemic disruptions, child care providers stepped up and provided a crucial service for parents and caregivers of young children, while adapting to changing health guidance to keep children and their families safe.

At Child Care Aware of Washington (CCA of WA), our staff and facilitators provide coaching and support services to child care providers statewide. Throughout the pandemic, we worked closely with providers and caregivers, answering their questions, listening to their concerns, advocating for their needs, providing supplies and resources, and supporting their programs through training, coaching, and other services.  As you might imagine, providers are tired, making this year a truly important year to appreciate their hard work.

As we at CCA of WA reflect on the heroic work of child care providers in Washington during these past years and always, we ask you to join us in celebrating and appreciating these critical educators. Here are some ways you can acknowledge the child care provider in your life:

  • Send a bouquet of flowers, a thank you card, or a handwritten note of appreciation
  • Work with your child or with other families to create a special gift
  • Share a message on social media appreciating the impact of their care for your family
  • Surprise your provider with a thank you basket or gift card (ex. coffee, take out, etc.)
  • Buy something for your provider’s play area

I hope you will join me in celebrating early childhood educators. It is more important than ever to act this year!

All my best,



Deeann Burtch Puffert

CEO, Child Care Aware of Washington

December 17, 2021

Sandy Maldonado to Join Child Care Aware® of America Board of Directors

We are excited to announce that Sandy Maldonado, Director of Early Learning at Child Care Aware of Washington, will join Child Care Aware® of America’s Board of Directors in January 2022.

“I am honored to join Child Care Aware of America’s Board of Directors and look forward to continuing and expanding the important work of ensuring quality early learning experiences across our nation for all children and particularly for children of color who, as we know, experience racism at the youngest ages,” said Sandy. “As importantly, I am dedicated to expanding policies and programs for child care providers, many whom are women of color, the small business owners in our communities that help drive our economy for working parents and employers.”

Join us in congratulating Sandy on this achievement and opportunity. We look forward to seeing the impacts of her work with our partners in the nation’s capital. You can read the press release here and read Child Care Aware® of America’s announcement here.

July 9, 2021

“Raising Our Future – American’s Child Care Dilemma” PBS Series Airs July 12-16

The PBS NewsHour, one of the nation’s most trusted nightly news sources, has produced an upcoming week-long series on child care in the United States entitled Raising Our Future: America’s Child Care Dilemma. The series is scheduled to run in five segments over the course of the week of July 12th.

Each segment will have a specific focus that will be covered in a 7-10 minute package and we anticipate that the particular needs of infants and toddlers will be woven throughout the series. Find it on your local PBS station, or stream it on the PBS NewsHour YouTube channel. 


June 30, 2021

Child Care Providers & Families to Benefit from Fair Start for Kids Act

Washington State Governor Inslee signed the Fair Start for Kids Act May 7, 2021. This historic legislation strengthens Washington’s child care system by assisting families with young children and licensed child care programs. Families with young children and child care providers will begin seeing the benefits of the new law starting in July 2021. For example:

  • In July – September 2021, families using Working Connections Child Care subsidies will not have to pay child care copayments, thanks to the Fair Start for Kids Act. Then from Oct. 2021 through 2022, family copayments will be capped at $115 per month. Some families will pay less.
  • Starting July 2021, the state will increase the reimbursement rates it pays to child care providers who serve children on Working Connections Child Care subsidies.

To learn more about the benefits of the Fair Start for Kids Act, click here.

June 18, 2021

We Celebrate Juneteenth

Child Care Aware of Washington applauds and celebrates Congress’s nearly unanimous approval of proclaiming Juneteenth a national holiday. Juneteenth marks an important date in our history that reminds us of our need individually, organizationally and as a country to pursue racial justice and equity, and to do so working alongside our Black brothers and sisters.

At Child Care Aware of Washington it is a particularly important reminder of our need to focus on children’s early experiences of racism. We are working to ensure that they spend their days in bias-free learning environments that support children’s racial identity development and demand an appreciation and space for all races and cultures to be present and celebrated.

Racism harms all children, and none worse than Black children. All of us at Child Care Aware of WA recognize this disturbing fact and are working to prevent that harm in our state’s child care and early learning system. We do this by interrupting racism in child care classrooms across the state by providing coaching, access to resources, training, early education that directly addresses racism in action and how to change teaching practices that support it.

When we start teaching children early about the value of all races, all cultures and all abilities we make progress against the generational racism and white supremacy that harms all children and especially children of color. We celebrate Juneteenth so our children can know the full truth of America’s history, as well as for the end of Black slavery. We celebrate Juneteenth to recognize and share the strengths, beauty and contributions of Black people throughout our history. And while we celebrate gains that chip away at racism, we remain comitted to the work of dismantling racist systems that harm Black communities, Black families and Black children. We stand with all who engage in this transformative work.

We encourage all families to recognize and talk with their children about the importance of Juneteenth. There are many great resources to help. Here are two:

 ’Every year we must remind successive generations that this event triggered a series of events that one by one defines the challenges and responsibilities of successive generations. That’s why we need this holiday.’’ Al Edwards   #Juneteenth

May 5, 2021

Child Care Providers to Be Celebrated by Governor Inslee

OLYMPIA, WA – May 4, 2021 – Governor Inslee will issue a Ceremonial Proclamation this Friday, May 7th expressing his appreciation for Washington’s child care providers, who have always helped power our economy by allowing parents to work, and who have provided exceptional services to their communities during the pandemic. Their work is making it possible for thousands of essential/frontline workers to do their work that serves everyone. Gov. Inslee will sign Washington’s Fair Start for Kids Act during a virtual celebration of providers from 10:30 – 11:30 that morning. Media are invited. Please register here.

Gov. Inslee deemed child care providers essential in March 2020 to ensure that healthcare workers, first responders and other critical workers could go to work. During the past 14 months our state’s providers have struggled to stay open. They have navigated ever-changing health and safety guidelines and COVID-19 prevention strategies, faced financial strain due to having fewer children to care for and higher costs due to increased sanitation needs and cared for school-age children who were learning remotely. Some Washington providers became ill with the virus themselves, and many helped families of children in their care cope with illness and bereavement. Many providers faced all of this without having health insurance. Some even dipped into their personal savings accounts to cover costs so they could stay open.

“I am inviting all Washingtonians to join me in celebrating National Child Care Provider Appreciation Day on May 7th by recognizing the tremendous value child care workers bring to the families they serve as well as to their communities. This past year, thousands of child care workers across the state have been providing care and support to the children of health care workers and other critical infrastructure workers on the front lines of the state’s pandemic response. I’m encouraging parents, families, and employers throughout Washington to join me in celebrating all child care workers on May 7th, National Child Care Provider Appreciation Day.”

During the past 14 months, up to 24% of Washington’s licensed child care providers closed, most temporarily due to exposure or potential exposure to the virus, or because they did not have enough children to care for. Providers have experienced an average 47% reduction in enrollment and income during the pandemic due to families keeping their children home and health guidelines requiring lower enrollment to keep children safe. Nearly 30% of WA’s child care workforce was laid off. Additionally, providers struggled to find the essential supplies they need to safely operate. Items such as toilet paper and bleach were nearly impossible to find. Child Care Aware of Washington (CCA of WA) helped supply these essentials for providers and helped thousands of programs by assisting with grant applications, understanding health and safety guidelines and creatively finding ways to support and care for children while also practicing physical distancing.

“Child care providers have gone the proverbial extra mile and more this past year,” said CCA of WA Chief Executive Officer Deeann Burtch Puffert. “We know they deserve extra kudos and celebration on this Child Care Provider Appreciation Day. We hope families and the business community joins us in appreciating these incredible providers who have literally kept us all going during these difficult months.”

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 directly with child care providers, offering professional development services and higher education scholarships to help providers integrate research-based,

best practices into their programs. We track child care supply, demand and cost data statewide and in every county. 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 and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @childcarewa.

April 30, 2021

Child Care Aware of Washington Statement On President Biden’s Universal Preschool Plan

The early childhood investments included in President Biden’s American Families Plan have the potential to be transformative for America’s children, families and child care providers. The United States has long lagged other developed countries in our investments in families and children, particularly our youngest children. The American Families Plan has the potential to move us forward, at last.

In Washington State, our child care and early learning system has invested for years in a robust quality improvement program so that licensed child care programs deliver what many used to consider separate “preschool” services. In quality child care programs, play-based early learning happens every day, all day, so that parents and guardians can work while their youngest children are safe and learning in nurturing environments.

Child Care Aware of Washington urges the Biden administration to consider that traditional preschool that operates only a few hours per day will not meet the needs of a majority of American families, most of whom have all adults working. Working families need quality, reliable, full-day, year-round child care in their communities that emphasizes early childhood education and social-emotional learning.

We highly recommend that full-day, full year universal preschool options should be offered through the existing licensed child care system. In cases where programs also serve children ages 0 – 3 there should be additional investment so that families can find care for all children under the age of 5 in the same program. A free, universal system of care for preschool age children should not pull those children from existing child care programs to be cared for in a single preschool-focused system making it difficult for families with multiple children to get their care needs met in one place. Child care for infants and toddlers is more expensive to provide and is already the most difficult to find. Removing “preschool” to another system of delivery will further erode access to 0 – 3 care because preschool income frequently subsidizes 0 – 3 financial losses.

Additionally, many child care small businesses are owned and directed by women of color. These small businesses are often sources of essential support to working parents in their communities. Pulling preschool-aged children from these licensed programs to a new, free system would devastate these small businesses, causing unintended harm to a BiPOC economic sector that has already experienced a disproportionate share of economic losses due to the pandemic.

A majority of Washington’s child care programs have stayed open to provide care to frontline workers during the pandemic; we cannot leave them behind if a free universal preschool option results in moving the children they care for to another program. We welcome investments and actions that will allow America to increasingly become a country where all children and families are valued and provided with the opportunities that meet their real-life challenges of balancing work and family life.