WA Child-Care Workers Get Wage Boost, Health Coverage
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- This session, Washington state lawmakers approved a major investment in child care and its workers.
The state budget provides $360 million for child-care grants, including $36 million in increased compensation for about 10,000 child-care workers across the state.
Luc Jasmin, co-owner of Parkview Early Learning Center in Spokane president of the Washington Childcare Centers Association, said most of the compensation funds will be distributed this year.
"This is the biggest investment from our state in early learning, ever," Jasmin asserted. "And it took some time. It took a lot of people, it took legislators who understood the importance of early learning, but we've got to keep it going."
Jasmin noted the funding includes subsidies to help more families afford care. The budget also includes $30 million for health coverage for about 15,000 workers, premium-free, through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Coverage is expected to be available by September.
John Burbank, executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, said wages for child-care workers stagnated after the Great Recession when legislators made big cuts to the budget. But he pointed out they've taken a different approach during the pandemic.
"Legislators realized that fundamental to high-quality child care was respect for and compensation of child-care workers, which has not been at the center of their agenda for a long, long time," Burbank remarked.
Burbank added the increased investment in child care is also an investment in a more equitable Washington, since it helps a workforce made up disproportionately of women and people of color.
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