All In WA Child Care Initiative
In response to the pandemic, the Child Care Initiative provided vital resources to expand access to affordable child care for working parents with the greatest need while also sustaining the industry of child care providers across Washington. Learn about our collective impact.
ABOUT THE CHILD CARE INITIATIVE
Families across Washington rely on child care to support the learning and developmental needs of their children while they work. Even before the pandemic, more than half a million of Washington’s children lacked access to licensed care. Although 61% of young children lived in households where all parents work, Washington only had licensed child care capacity for 41% of young children and 5% of school-age children. In addition to exploring options of licensed care, many families rely on relatives, friends, and neighbors to provide consistent care for their children during work. Finding affordable, quality care has long been a widespread problem, particularly for low-income and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) families, as well as people living in rural and remote communities. The pandemic exacerbated this persistent challenge.
As families grappled with the challenge of access and affordability, the child care industry faced unprecedented strain. Known for its low profit margins and low paid workforce, many child care providers were already operating month-to-month before COVID. During the pandemic, social distancing guidelines reduced the capacity of child care programs at child care centers, family child care, and school-age care. This resulted in significant reductions in available slots, with enrollment plunging by 47% across sites in Washington. With fewer children under their care, revenue for child care owners decreased. At the same time, costs increased as business owners took on new expenses to comply with new health and safety standards due to COVID.
The Child Care Initiative received funding from key supporters, including: Ballmer Group (co-founded by Connie and Steve Ballmer), Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Pivotal Ventures (founded by Melinda Gates), Perigee Fund (founded by Lisa Mennet), The Why Not You Foundation (founded by Ciara and Russell Wilson), and Puget Sound Energy.