Early learning facilities bills HB 1777 and its companion, SB 5753, continue to advance in the legislative process. The bills offer grants to programs for renovations or new construction. There is currently a lack of classroom space for early learning programs due to many factors including the decrease in K-3 class size mandating more space for new classrooms, full day kindergarten, and the ECEAP expansion goals. With the grants, the state is looking to help programs unable to improve their program space to meet quality standards or who are willing to expand upon their quality program, to make the room and improvements to accommodate more students in need.
For good data on the childcare reality across the Unites States::
• WA is the 3rd most expensive state for care of an infant in family care programs, and the 6th most expensive for care in centers.
• Child care rates have already been rising steadily (2-5 times faster than the rate of inflation in 2016, depending on age group). Now, as child care providers face rising costs again, with no increase in subsidy reimbursement rates, 72% of providers plan to again raise rates for families.
- Providers who plan to raise rates for families 72%
How will minimum wage affect your preschool program?
According to a recent survey conducted by Child Care Aware of Washington, almost 80% of preschools indicated the wage increase will raise operating costs either significantly or somewhat, and some fear it will force them to close their doors.
The impact of the increased minimum wage is intensified for programs that care for the most vulnerable children, because these programs rely on WA’s child care assistance program, Working Connections Child Care (WCCC), which in many cases only covers between 50 – 70%, or even less, of the true cost of providing care. For years the state’s reimbursement rates for child care centers have not kept pace with costs.
- More than 50% of these businesses report that they had to raise the wages of more than half of their staff in order to implement the new minimum wage initiative.
- The annualized cost of care for one infant in WA is more than 50% of the state median income for single parents.
- The state has lost 22% of its licensed child care businesses since 2011.
One of the highlights of the new data report is that as of Dec. 31, 2016 there were 3,609 child care providers enrolled in Early Achievers, Washington’s Quality Rating and Improvement System, representing approximately 71% of licensed providers statewide and 75% of capacity. More than 75,000 children are being cared for in Early Achievers programs.