Two early learning bills introduced to legislators this week propose making early child care and education more affordable and accessible for Washington state families: the Fair Start for Kids Act (HB 2661) and the Early Care and Education Act (SB 6253).
The two-hour House hearing on Tuesday included over forty early learning advocates from all walks of life who testified with a similar message: when you invest in our youngest citizens, you invest in a stronger economy and healthier families.
To that end, I’d like to share a short personal story.
My husband and I welcomed our daughter Lily in September 2017. While pregnant with Lily, a few friends of mine suggested getting my unborn child signed onto waiting lists for childcare. I remember thinking that was absurd.
But they were right.
Shortly after Lily was born, I placed her on seven different childcare waitlists. After months of waiting, and now scheduled to return to work, I was left only with vague assurances of when she would have a slot. The only option was to hire a nanny, which cost nearly my entire salary or leave my job and stay home with Lily.
As a young professional who put herself through college to pursue a policy-focused career, justifying whether to keep working or not was infuriating. Ultimately, we made the decision that I’d leave my job.
Almost a year later, we stumbled upon Miss Elvie’s Daycare, an in-home daycare where Lily has been thriving under Miss Elvie’s care. She has learned social, emotional, and academic skills, including Spanish! Because of the quality care we found, I was able to return to my dream job at the Foundation for Tacoma Students, helping this passionate community advocate on issues of public policy – and was lucky enough to welcome my second born, Jack, this past summer.
My story is not unique and is becoming more common among my peer group – including good friend, social worker, and early learning advocate Jenny Nakata.
Jenny started her own family a year ago and, to my dismay, faced a similar predicament. She joined me in Olympia this past Tuesday with her gorgeous son, Charlie, to share her story with the House Committee on Human Services and Early Learning. Watch Jenny’s testimony advocating for increased investments in early learning below:
The Graduate Tacoma community is heading down to Olympia on Wednesday, January 29, to meet with legislators. It’s not too late to RSVP and join us for this special day of action.
If you’re unable to join, please sign this letter to our Pierce County delegation urging the state to do what it can to prevent more families from leaving the workforce and ensure all Washington children are in quality learning environments.