BREAKING NEWS: A new study from the Center for American Progress found 83% of parents with children under the age of five struggle to access affordable, high-quality early learning programs for their children. (NOT news to those of us experiencing the childcare crisis, amiright?).
And according to Child Care Aware’s Parents and the High Cost of Care study, the average cost of care for 2 children in Washington is more than year's worth of mortgage payments!
This is a CODE RED folks! Washington families need big solutions now and thankfully we have just the opportunity to make these solutions a reality. Governor Inslee will release a budget with his priorities for the 2019 legislative session at the end of this year and we are in prime time to remind him that kids and families are counting on him to be their champion. The countdown is on. The clock is ticking.
Why this and why now? Because quite frankly families just can’t wait a minute longer.
Children and families across Washington are continually denied access to affordable high-quality early learning programs, like pre-k and childcare, that help build strong foundations for kids and families to thrive. 23,000 eligible children wait in the wings to access our state’s high-quality pre-k program (Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program - ECEAP), yet we don’t have enough classrooms to welcome these little learners. And families across Washington struggle to get to work while they search to find places for their children to be safe, loved and learning: nearly half of American families live in “childcare deserts” where there aren’t enough childcare options. Compounding that, affording childcare is an unsolvable math problem with infant child care costing more than public college tuition in our state.
And with millennials joining the ranks of parents in droves with more than a million millennial women becoming moms each year, things are getting extra real. Single millennial moms are getting hit doubly hard: 54% of babies born to millennials are by single mothers AND due to wage discrimination single mamas earn just two-thirds of what single dads make. Here in Washington, childcare for an infant eats up 55% of the millennial median income, and 96% for childcare for an infant and a 4-year-old! We are experiencing a childcare crisis that is at the brink and we need big solutions that work for kids, families, early childhood professionals, and our economy.
Something’s got to give: Urge Governor Inslee to ensure ALL families have access to affordable, high-quality early learning, including prek and childcare, so our state’s children and families can thrive.
We know early learning matters
Research tells us that high-quality early learning is crucial to the success of our kids, our families, and our economy. In fact, high-quality early learning has the potential to prevent the opportunity gap before it even starts. It’s no surprise that high-quality early learning programs for children from birth through age five produce a 13% per year return on investment through improved results in education, health, social behaviors, and employment. And we know that ECEAP is one of the best public pre-k programs in the country. In fact, ECEAP gains are long lasting and twice as strong by 5th grade when compared to other state preschool programs. Yet, Washington ranks 32nd in terms of access to preschool for four-year-olds. Washington families shouldn’t have to wait for access to critical and effective programs like ECEAP and high-quality childcare.
Families know what works when it comes to our littlest learners: safe and nurturing environments, full of teachers who are well trained and fairly compensated, who reflect the diversity of our children, and meet the unique needs of every child. Now is the time to use our outside voices to urge Governor Inslee to continue being bold and to lift up the expertise of families to help build an early learning system that ensures all children can thrive. The truth is, families and early education professionals are stretched thin. It’s time for the state to open the doors of opportunity and invest in childcare that ALL families can access and afford, where educators make a living wage, and all children can thrive.
Our children can’t wait any longer for the opportunities they need to ensure they are ready and successful in school and life. Let’s help make sure Governor Inslee knows we support him in doing BIG things for our littlest learners this legislative session.
Together we are a powerful voice for children and families in Washington!