Fair Start for Kids Act Benefits


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.

This resource provides a brief overview of some of the key benefits of the Act.

For families with young children, the Fair Start for Kids Act:
  • Increases the number of families who qualify for financial assistance to pay for child care by raising income eligibility limits starting Oct. 1, 2021. The new limits will be tied to the state median income instead of the federal poverty level. This means that families of four can earn up to $5,139 per month (60% of the state median income) and qualify for help.
  • Reduces family child care copays starting Oct. 1, 2021 through 2022 to up to $115 per month. Some families will pay less. Starting in 2023, family child care copays will be capped at 7% of income.
  • Increases the number of facilitated play and learn groups available for caregivers of young children.
  • Provides increased funding to child care programs and state-funded preschool programs (ECEAP) to better serve families experiencing low incomes, dual-language families and children with unique needs.
  • Funds infant-early childhood mental health consultation services for child care providers and the children and families they serve.


For child care providers, the Fair Start for Kids Act:
  • Raised the amount of money providers earn when they serve families who rely on state child care subsidies to 85% of market rates starting July 1, 2021. Click here to see the new reimbursement rates.
  • Funds grants for child care programs that help them recover from the pandemic and keep their doors open.
  • Provides funding for programs to provide trauma-informed care.
  • Funds health insurance for child care providers. (Most child care small businesses cannot afford to offer health insurance to their staff.)
  • Increases earnings for programs that offer dual-language child care.
  • Increases earnings for programs that provide infant care.

For complete, in-depth details about the benefits of the Fair Start for Kids Act, visit the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families online here. To view a timeline on when different parts of the Fair Start for Kids Act become effective, click here.