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More child care programs become available in western Washington

Families in Washington state are struggling with child care as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

WASHINGTON — In the days of the pandemic, it seems one crisis leads to another. Many families are certainly feeling that way when it comes to finding childcare and going back to work. 

It can still be a legitimate reason to receive unemployment as many families are forced to choose leaving their homes or leaving their children. Daycare facilities are not at full capacity, if open at all.

Pierce County received $158 million in CARES Act funds. It's spending nearly $2 million solely on child care programs. Child Care Resources is working with the county to disseminate their CARES money through subsidies to families and grants to providers.

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Of that nearly $2 million, $1.5 million will go to providing vouchers to families to access to child care and school programs. The rest will give child care providers relief grants to help them reopen safely. There will be an emphasis on helping providers that are located in areas where child care is scarce. 

"The child care industry in Washington has been deeply underfunded and overburdened for decades," Phoebe Sade Anderson, the CEO of Child Care Resources wrote in a statement. "Child care providers make little over minimum wage, while the monthly cost of care is often the most expensive bill many families pay. Infant care, for example, surpasses the cost of tuition at a public university. 

"Not only is this stressful for families, but also for businesses, who need a reliable workforce."

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Anderson wrote there are ongoing child care reforms across the state of Washington, and in the coming months Child Care Resource and First 5 FUNdamentals will work to find opportunities to reform the system during the pandemic.

Child Care Aware of Washington Family Center has also expanded its operations to serve the state when it comes to child care response, resources, and referrals during the pandemic. The call center can connect families directly to vacant child care slots, track child care openings and closures, and help child care programs remain open. To contact them call: 1-800-446-1114.