This week’s presidential inauguration marked a new beginning in American history and served as a reminder that public participation in the democratic process is vital to serving families who need us the most.
Washington residents signed up in historic numbers to speak in front of lawmakers during this week’s session. Ninety-eight members of the public from across the state signed up to testify in front of the House committee on Thursday in support of The Fair Start for Kids Act (HB-1213 / SB-5237). The legislative proposal would make early learning – including childcare, preschool, and programs for infants and toddlers – more affordable and accessible for families and more sustainable for providers, who are typically women of color.
Pierce County, specifically, has seen an estimated 25% loss in childcare capacity as of August 2020. And we suspect this number is even higher today as additional childcare programs have closed due to COVID-19 – disproportionately impacting low-income families and children of color. Investments in quality early learning are crucial to a post-COVID economic recovery.
The Fair Start of Kids Act provides economic relief through equitable compensation for thousands of early care professionals and enables thousands of families to return to the workforce.
Primary Sponsor of the bill, Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island), noted that the goal of this bill is to ensure that all children have a fair start to success. Black children are typically 44% behind their white peers when it comes to kindergarten readiness, and Latinx children typically 33%. We’ve historically seen that when students start behind, they stay behind.
Long-term, sustainable financing of high-quality, community-based early learning opportunities will help ensure that success for Washington children throughout their educational career – and beyond – is not determined by their zip code, family income, race, or ethnicity. Supporting children and working parents means creating more options that are available, accessible, appropriate, and affordable for their families.
Advocating for Increased Investments in Early Learning
The childcare crisis is nothing new. Watch Jenny Nakada, a social worker and Tacoma resident, testify in front of the House committee for increased investments in early learning during the 2020 legislative session.
White Papers: Investing in Early Learning Opportunities
Each of Washington’s 460,000 children under 5 deserve the chance to enter kindergarten ready, healthy, and with the support they need to begin a lifetime of learning. However, our state spends only a little over 1% of its budget on early care and education.
Fact Sheet: Fair Start for Kids Act
Share this one-pager with your network to spread the word on key provisions of this bill and the dire need of early learning investments for children, families, providers, and our economy.
Washington Cradle to Career Advocacy Network
Nine organizations from across the state have aligned to advocate for more integrated and equitable investments for youth and increase each community’s capacity to transform political structures in favor of kids.