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Sen. Murray proposes Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act

Sen. Murray said the child care crisis is getting worse. She wants to pass the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act to address the problem.

SEATTLE — Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) said the COVID-19 pandemic is making the child care crisis worse. She wants to pass the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act to address the problem.

According to Sen. Murray, the nation is at risk of losing 4.5 million child care slots, with 42,000 of those losses happening in Washington state because child care providers say they are at risk of closing their doors.

Kenya Jones is a Seattle mother of two who is feeling the stress of the pandemic. She works at an assisted living center.

"We are actually getting ready to do a staff and resident COVID test next week, so just talking about it makes my hands sweat," explained Jones.

In addition to concerns about the virus, Jones has struggled to find child care, and she has learned from other parents that she is not alone.

Numbers reported to the state's Department of Children, Youth, and Families show it too. As of July 13, 4,400 licensed providers are open statewide, but 1,022 child care centers remain closed. The closed locations would typically serve 47,777 infants and children.

RELATED: More child care programs become available in western Washington

"We are hearing from parents who are not sure they can go back to work because their child care provider closed," Sen. Murray said in June.

On Thursday, the senator hosted a conference call with child care providers, like Lus Jasmin from Spokane.

"This situation is no joke," said Jasmin. "So many of us are losing revenue because families don't have the funds."

Sen. Murray also pointed out inequities, saying due to systemic racism, childcare challenges have hit families of color particularly hard.

As for Jones, she has child care for her 1-year-old son Michael, but finding help for her daughter, 8-year-old Elisa Marie, has been more of a struggle, especially with the uncertainty about what the next school year will look like.

Sen. Murray said the bill she is fighting for would implement public health measures, provide emergency financial assistance, and address the challenges around education. 

RELATED: Washington daycare crisis looms in wake of coronavirus