Letter Feb 6th in The Columbian

Investments in early child care and preschool are fundamental difference-makers for Washington children and families. That’s why I support the efforts in Olympia to make child care and preschool more affordable and accessible in Washington.

Four years ago, I became a father. Due to limited openings and few day care providers in our region, we were only able to access part-time care. My wife had to cut her work hours and eventually left a highly competitive, technical job to work closer to home. When we had our second child, we were more prepared, but the costs are astronomical.

Child care is our biggest expense — more than our mortgage, equivalent to more than tuition to the University of Washington. For the 21 percent of Southwest Washington families near or below the poverty level, these costs and lack of access represent dead-ends. The Association of Washington Businesses, or AWB, found that half of Washington parents struggle to find, afford, and keep child care; one-third leave the workforce.

This is the story of too many working parents in Washington. We can change that. Encourage our lawmakers to commit to quality early care and education programs for our children and give a boost to hardworking families.