Legislative Action Needed at All Levels for Early Learning
Rethinking the way we develop early childhood learning centers requires creative partnerships and new flexible funding sources. Many of Washington’s elected leaders are demonstrating their commitment to help lift families out of poverty and increase access to child care and early learning opportunities for children.
Senator Patty Murray has introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler has signed on as a co-sponsor to the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act. Combined, these two bills would expand access to child care and early learning by reducing the out of pocket cost for working families, create pathways and reduce barriers to obtain credentials for child care professionals, including improving compensation and training, and allocate more resources to build, renovate or expand child care facilities, especially in child care deserts and rural communities.
These efforts come at a time when local momentum on the ground is swelling to address the pressing child care needs across the state. Several of these efforts, including the Early Learning Facilities Grant Program, the Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account (PSTAA) funds, Enterprise’s Home and Hope program, and a forthcoming statewide assessment of issues affecting child care access and affordability, can be valuable and critical additions to scale these efforts to meet the level of need across the state.
Local leaders need to remain steadfast and be bold by making strong investments and commitments to increasing access to quality, safe and affordable child care and early learning. With the potential for additional federal legislation and resources Washington state can be ahead of the curve in ensuring that there are enough classrooms for all children, compensation, training, and education for child care professionals improves, and that families can help lift themselves out of poverty by allowing parents to be fully engaged in or re-enter the workforce.