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Parents Weigh Costs of Summertime Child Care

About 37 percent of children in licensed care are ages 6 to 13. (School's Out Washington)
About 37 percent of children in licensed care are ages 6 to 13. (School's Out Washington)
May 12, 2016

SEATTLE - As the school year wraps up, working parents of school-age kids are securing their child-care plans for the summer. One of the toughest challenges working parents face is paying for child care, which can skyrocket when children aren't in school.

Susan Brown, president and CEO of the child-care provider Kids Company, sees the extra burden families face when school is out.

"It's much harder for families because when you're used to paying for before- and after-school care only, which is about five hours a day, to now needing to pay for 10 to 11 hours of care a day," she said. "You're looking at your costs for care doubling."

Brown said some parents might decide not to put their kids in care at all. Only about 37 percent of children six to thirteen in Washington are in licensed child care throughout the year.

For working families, applying for financial assistance can be an option to help pay for the cost of care. However, a new report from the Center for American Progress shows assistance sometimes can be hard to apply for.

Study author and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, Judith Warner said the poorest families don't have the cushion of safety being middle class provides, and can face trials at every turn to find assistance.

"They're struggling with a level of logistical difficulty that goes so far beyond the just regular life stresses and strains that all working parents talk about all the time," she said.

According to the report, the average child-care cost for an infant and four-year-old in Washington state is more than $22,000 a year.

Brown said an unintended consequence of raising the minimum wage in Washington cities has been that some families no longer qualify for these child-care subsidies, yet still live paycheck to paycheck.

"I think that looking at what qualifies you for subsidies has to happen, especially with the minimum wages going up," she added.

The full report can be found at here, and to find out more about child-care options in Washington state, go to wa.childcareaware.org/.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA