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Childcare Workers In King County To Receive One-time Retention Bonus

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Childcare Workers In King County To Receive One-time Retention Bonus

Teacher And Pupils Using Wooden Shapes In Montessori School

By Aaron Allen,

King County is providing $5 million through the Best Starts for Kids levy and the City of Seattle is providing $2.4 million from the JumpStart Payroll Expense Tax to provide more than 12,000 childcare providers a one-time payment for retention bonuses.

The retention payments came in response to the added responsibilities taken on by childcare services during the pandemic, the challenges, the barriers, and the ongoing inequities in the field childcare workforce has faced.  As essential as childcare is to the well-being of our communities, families, and children, childcare services are one of the lowest-wage jobs in our state’s workforce. In Washington, childcare workers make about $9 less than the median worker, hovering around minimum wage.

Almost 90 percent of eligible licensed childcare providers in the county went through the application process for the retention payments, echoing a profound need in the workforce. Due to the number of applications, the one-time payment will range from $400 – $500 per childcare worker and begin to reach providers this month through September.

King County Executive Dow Constantine says the payment is an acknowledgement of just how important childcare workers are to the region and shows a commitment to support childcare workers in the region.

“Childcare workers are essential to a healthy, thriving region, providing critical services to families and communities every day,” said Constantine. “We are committed to access to affordable childcare and respectful wages for childcare workers, and these investments provide the necessary support to ensure both. We’re grateful for our partnership with Mayor Harrell and the City of Seattle and will continue to collaborate on ways we can invest in this workforce.”

According to Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, unpredictable circumstances due to the pandemic, childcare workers rose to the occasion and believes thriving wages reflect the value of our childcare workers and their impact on families.

“Through the most challenging and unpredictable of circumstances, childcare workers stepped up during the pandemic to support our city’s children and families,” said Harrell. “It is our turn to show up for them. To reach our vision for One Seattle, we must build a sustainable future where families have access to high-quality, affordable care, and providers can earn a thriving wage that reflects the value they provide to our economy. We will get to that future only through strong partnerships built on respect, trust, and collaboration with the childcare community.”

According to statistics, childcare workers environment places them at a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure due to the nature of their work and have lost income when facilities had to close.  They also endure physically and emotionally taxing work This retention payment project is providing funds to incentivize the ongoing retention of providers and to collect data on current rates of turnover in the field.

“Childcare workers have served on the frontlines of our pandemic to ensure our city’s kiddos are cared for and safe, and that working families can continue to balance work and childcare. Despite being in one of our state’s most underpaid professions, childcare workers continue to show up for our community when we need it most,” said Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda. “Thank you to all those who serve and to our community partners who have made these payments possible.”

In addition to the childcare retention payment distributed to providers throughout King County, providers in Seattle are also eligible for a one-time stabilization grant from the City of Seattle to help support their continued recovery from COVID-19 and provide for a variety of business needs, such as mental health supports for children or staff, health and nutrition needs, cleaning or sanitizing supplies, or payroll costs. In total, 631 Seattle childcare businesses received just under $1.1 million in stabilization grants.

“Childcare programs are struggling to rebuild from the financial impacts and staffing shortages of the pandemic. The City of Seattle Child Care Stabilization Grants are a lifeline to helping sustain childcare programs so we can continue to serve the childcare needs of working and student families,” said Susan Brown, Founder of Greater Seattle Child Care Business Coalition.

        Childcare providers have been crucial to getting us through the pandemic and economic recovery,” says Cindy Elizalde, Executive Vice President, SEIU 925. “These grants will go a long way to help childcare small business owners stay open so that kids can be safe, and parents can work.”

        Child Care Resources managed the application process and is the main point of contact with providers on funding awards and denials. Staff are working to respond to questions from both providers and the public and will communicate directly with organizations. For questions, contact Child Care Resources at (800) 446-1114 or [email protected].


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