Lawmakers in Olympia are working to avoid a partial government shutdown that would result in more than 30,000 state employee layoffs and will affect services for thousands of families.
Among the many people watching closely are advocates for child care assistance funding in Washington state.
The Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program is one of the programs that may be affected. Even if a deal is reached, there still will be implications depending on if funding is increased or decreased.
“ECEAP supports our most vulnerable kids, kids who are very low income and working connections serves families at 200 percent of the federal poverty level. And together they build out the bulk of what our state capacity is to provide safe, nurturing, educational places for our young kids to go to while their parents are at work,” Ryan Pricco, director of Policy and Advocacy Child Care Aware of Washington, says. “I think that’s the important thing to remember here is that we are talking about families who have gone through the struggle, have gotten a job, who want to be self-sustained, but child care is just so expensive, and high-quality child care is even more expensive.”
Pricco said all the research shows that this type of investment is crucial in a child’s development, but he added that when the initial budgets were released he believed that all three of them (House, Senate, Governor) did not do enough for funding in this area.
People from both sides of the aisle down in OIympia say the budgets have changed greatly since they were first proposed, and if they can reach an agreement right now, it appears that there will be millions of dollars invested in early childhood education. It’s more of a question of how much additional child care assistance will be offered.
Unless state lawmakers reach a budget deal by the end of Friday, the state will go into a partial shutdown for the first time in state history.