Senn and Wilson introduce fair start for kids to address child care shortage and economic recovery

OLYMPIA – Earlier today, Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn) and Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island) introduced companion legislation to address the child care crisis costing our families, businesses and economy. We must make child care more affordable and accessible for families across Washington state.

Child care was in crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic, and now it’s on the brink of collapse. According to a report published by the Association of Washington Business, the child care crisis already costs Washington businesses $2.08 billion a year. Working parents in Washington forgo $14 billion a year in lost wages due to the lack of child care access. In the wake of the pandemic, the problem has been exacerbated with huge numbers of parents leaving the workforce or reducing hours and access to economic stability due to reduced access to child care.

“In order to restart our state’s economy, we have to invest in child care,” said Senn. “Parents can’t rejoin the work force until they have child care, businesses can’t reopen until their workers have a safe and affordable place to take their kids, and all kids deserve a fair start.”

The Fair Start for Kids Act, Senate Bill 5237 and House Bill 1213, is a multi-faceted approach to solving the child care crisis, addressing racial equity and helping the economy. The bill aims to make child care more affordable for families, stabilize and expand the diverse child care workforce, support the expansion of child care, and strengthen prevention and intervention services. Through measures such as increasing child care subsidy rates, reducing families’ copays, and offering business and mental health supports, the Fair Start for Kids Act will aid in getting parents back to work, our economy up and running, and more kids a fair start in life.

“Our future economy depends on meeting the critical early needs of children now for success throughout school and life,” said Wilson. “And it is our child care providers, most of whom are women of color, who are meeting those needs, despite being dramatically underpaid. In order to meet the child care needs of more working parents, we must sustain, expand and value the workforce.”

SB 5237 will be heard in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee on Friday, January 22, and HB 1213 will be heard in the House Children, Youth & Families Committee on Thursday, January 21.


Fair Start for Kids Act handout
Fair Start for Kids Act quotes

Para más información en español:
Ley de Comienzo Justo para Niños