A “10% by 2020” vision for child care costs per family’s income
Access to affordable, high quality childcare and early education is one of the most pressing issues facing Seattle’s families. Our society has a responsibility to give every child a great start in life, to promote economic justice, and to empower women to participate equally in the workforce. Affordable access to child care is the next progressive issue where Seattle can lead the country.
Providing high-quality, well supported child care is one of the most effective tools we can use to close the opportunity gap and bring economic justice for both families and providers. Unfortunately, the cost is too high for many families to afford, and child care workers are still drastically underpaid.
Jessyn Farrell wants to change that. At a forum hosted by SEIU 925 Thursday night, the candidate for mayor rolled out a bold, holistic vision by setting a 2020 goal to provide every child under 5 access to quality birth-to-5 child care and early learning, while ensuring that caregivers earn a living wage.
“We need a solution that works for families, children, educators, and caregivers,” stated Jessyn. “As a working mom, public school parent, and a leader on family issues in the Washington State Legislature, I know how important child care is and have always been committed to supporting working families.”
The first step in Jessyn’s three-part plan is a “Child First” approach to providing affordable childcare and early learning, which focuses on kids rather than the entities that serve them. The city would provide a one-stop clearinghouse for the numerous services and organizations that help parents afford child care and early learning.
While they may each serve children in beneficial ways, the challenge for families looking for affordable child care is navigating all the various services and sources. This coordinated effort will help focus successful federal programs like Head Start with State, County, and existing City resources. By pulling all resources and entities together under one roof, Seattle can consolidate and coordinate funds to more efficiently serve families in need.
“A city as innovative as Seattle should be leading the nation in solving the childcare and early-learning affordability challenges facing our families” added Farrell. “As a Mayor who would know the struggle these parents face, I want to help Seattle’s parents easily find the highest quality, most appropriate, and most affordable options for their child.”
Jessyn’s “Child First” plan also includes building a greater partnership between the City, child care providers, and private employers, encouraging them to provide better coverage or contribute to the City’s effort to provide more opportunities. Farrell points to organizations like United Way of King County and the coalition-building efforts of Thrive Washington as potential partners in this endeavor, as well as the support that partners like SEIU 925 can bring by helping deliver better training, housing, and economic justice for providers.
Farrell also proposes an increase in the Families and Education Levy in 2018. The Levy invests millions in health care and early learning for Seattle’s children, setting them on the right path for a lifetime of academic achievement. Increasing this levy will expand the reach of the City’s program to more families, bringing greater funding resources to Seattle’s one-stop clearinghouse for parents.
Jessyn has already built a track record fighting for our region’s most vulnerable children. She successfully advocated for the creation of a $518 million “Puget Sound Taxpayers Accountability Fund” for expanded early education and support services, which was included in the ST3 light rail expansion package and passed by voters in 2016. Jessyn will tap into that revenue stream to help pay for her child care plan as mayor.
Ultimately, Farrell’s vision to deliver child care and early learning opportunities will coordinate and expand on crucial investments that the City of Seattle, King County, and the State have been making in providing all children a great start in life by expanding Pre-Kindergarten and wrap-around services. Jessyn’s goal is to ensure that no family pays more than 10 percent of their income for child care, standing as the one candidate who can lead this partnership to improve the opportunities available to all children in our city.