For Candidates: Washingtonians Want Lawmakers to Make New Investments in Child Care

Washington is facing a child care crisis. According to the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families, it’s estimated more than 600,000 Washington kids who need care because all available parents are working currently aren’t getting state licensed child care.

The cost of high-quality early learning and child care is simply too high and too hard to find. The median cost for child care has increased a staggering 74 percent in the last decade. Where affordable options exist, they are few and far between. Making the crisis worse, child care workers – nearly all of whom are women, and disproportionately women of color – are so underpaid that many rely on government assistance, and low wages lead to high staff turnover which further destabilizes the industry.

This isn’t just bad for kids and parents – it’s bad for our entire economy. When parents don’t have a reliable and affordable place to take their children while they work, they’re forced to miss shifts and lose income, or leave the workforce altogether. In fact, 30 percent of parents report leaving the workforce because of lack of child care. With more parents pushed out of the workforce or earning less, that means fewer people with less money to spend in their local communities, and our entire economy suffers.

The good news is that Washington voters want lawmakers to act, and a majority of voters consider child care affordability and access a top or high priority when they go to vote this November.

This spring, a coalition of Children’s Campaign Fund Action, MomsRising and OneAmerica Votes conducted polling of Washington voters, which found that 70% approve of a new proposal to cap costs for families, create a living wage structure for workers, and fund training for child care providers to improve quality and safety. Further, 62% of voters – including a majority of independents – said they would be more likely to vote for candidates who support this proposal.

We, along with our partners, have made the findings from this poll available in a candidate training which we presented in early July to all interested candidates regardless of partisanship. In the presentation, candidates can find topline results from the poll, as well as helpful background on this issue and messaging guidance. Additionally, candidates can access our 2024 Child Care Candidate Toolkit here, which provides further talking points, useful statistics and facts on child care in Washington, as well as sample content for social media.

Finally, candidates who are willing to take our 2024 Child Care Candidate Pledge and commit to tackling this crisis should they be elected will receive additional pro-child care candidate content for their websites and social media pages.

We intend to put child care and early learning issues at the forefront of elections this year in every contest in Washington state. We look forward to that work ahead with our partners, and building a child care majority in Olympia that will deliver the solutions voters are calling for.