ICYMI: Senator Murray Introduces Child Care for Working Families Act, Highlights Need for Quality Affordable Child Care with Washington State Providers and Parents

Seattle, WA – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, held a video press call with Lois Martin, a child care provider from Seattle, Luc Jasmin III, a child care provider from Spokane, and Patty Liu, a working mother from Seattle, to highlight the depth of the child care crisis in Washington state and preview her Child Care for Working Families Act, which she reintroduced today. The Child Care for Working Families Act, which Senator Murray first introduced in 2017, is a comprehensive early learning and child care bill to ensure affordable, high-quality child care for working families.

The legislation comes as many Washington state child care providers have been forced to close due to COVID-19, with 13% of providers statewide forced to close because of the pandemic, a loss of 712 licensed child care programs.

“I hear constantly from people all across our state—parents, business owners, and community leaders—about how hard it is to find and afford quality child care and how tough that is on working families—especially women and families of color,” said Senator Murray. “I’m fighting hard to make sure every working family can get high quality, affordable child care because it’s the right thing to do for the people of Washington state and a smart investment in our children and our economy.”

The Child Care for Working Families Act would establish a child care and early learning infrastructure that ensures working families can find and afford the child care they need to succeed in the workforce and children can get the early education they need to thrive. This legislation would make child care affordable for working families, expand access to preschool programs for 3- and 4-year olds, improve the quality of care for all children, and increase compensation and provide training for child care workers. Overall, the Child Care for Working Families Act would jumpstart our economy by creating roughly 700,000 new child care jobs, help 1.6 million parents—primarily mothers—go back to work, and lift one million families out of poverty.

“Senator Murray your proposed legislation brings hope to me and other providers. It levels the economic playing field for low to moderate wage earners, who might be able to save a little or spend a tad bit more when their child care expenses are capped at 7%. It provides a way to increase early care and education personnel wages to make them equivalent to the pay scale of the K-12 system. It rewards educational attainments using a scaffolding approach that opens doors to coursework that improves our interactions with children without leaving any provider behind. And most importantly to me it calls for a diverse workforce, because our country is only as strong as the intersection of our differing perspectives,” said Lois Martin, Director of the Community Day Center for Children in Seattle.

“Last summer Senator Murray highlighted the need for additional funds for our child care industry at a press conference similar to this one. Shortly after, the child care industry received state grants funded by federal CARES Act dollars that kept us afloat. Without these funds, we would have not been able to keep our doors open. At Parkview Early Learning Center alone we serve about 115 children and employ over 30 staff. But even with this lifeline we are holding on by a thread and that is why I am thankful for this bill is being discussed,” said Luc Jasmin III, Owner and Director of Parkview Early Learning Center in Spokane, and President of the Washington Childcare Centers Association.

“This pandemic didn’t cause these problems, it has only laid bare for everyone to see what parents, what us moms have long known. The difficulty finding and affording quality child care takes a huge toll on women. The current system which requires each family to build their own child care solution from scratch isn’t working, and when childcare isn’t working neither can we. Our country cannot continue to rely on individuals, mostly women, to do the work that we should be doing together as a society. Thank you Senator Murray for bringing this conversation to the forefront for working parents and the early learning professionals who are often working parents themselves,” said Patty Liu, a working mother of two young boys in Seattle.

A fact sheet on the bill is available HERE.

Bill text is available HERE.