Anyone who’s ever had to pay for child care will tell you the same thing: child care is expensive! If you’ve ever struggled to pay for the cost of child care or needed to make compromises to make ends meet, you wouldn’t be alone. With the added challenges posed by the pandemic, many parents and caregivers are looking for help—even those who never needed assistance before.
But did you know that on May 7th of this year, the Governor signed the Fair Start for Kids Act—a historic legislation meant to strengthen Washington’s child care system by assisting families with young children and licensed child care programs? This new legislation is BIG for those who take care of our most precious residents. So, let’s talk about what this means for Washington state families.
For families, the Fair Start for Kids Act does the following:
- It increases the number of families who will qualify for financial assistance to pay for child care!
Beginning October 1st, 2021, income eligibility will be raised, with new limits tied to the state median income instead of the federal poverty level. This means that a family of four can earn up to $5,139 per month (which is 60% of the state median income) and still qualify for help.
- It will reduce family child care copays to a maximum of $115 per month!
Beginning October 1st, 2021 through the end of 2022, child care copays for families with state child care assistance will be reduced to a maximum of $115 per month. Some families may even pay less! And starting in 2023, these copays will be capped at 7% of one’s household income.
Did you know that there is even more help available to those who qualify?
Aside from the Fair Start for Kids Act, there are other opportunities for financial assistance here in Washington state. Washington Connection offers a fast and easy way for families and individuals to apply for a variety of services such as Food, Cash, Child Care, Long-Term Care, and Medicare Savings Programs.
To see if you qualify for child care assistance (or any other type of assistance listed above), go here.
So you’ve got finances figured out but you don’t know what child care services are available in your area?
Once again—you’re not alone! If you’ve recently moved to a new town or you’re looking to put your kiddo in child care for the first time, there is help available.
Washington State has a centralized child care information and assistance service called Child Care Aware WA. Here, you can find a list of licensed child care providers in your area, with contact information, hours of operation, ages accepted, and quality ratings. You can also access information about financial assistance available to families in Washington, as well as guidance for how to select child care.
To search for a provider near you, click here.
Want to talk with someone about your options? Call the Family Center at 1-800-446–1114. This free service is available Monday through Friday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm.
Need before or after-school care for your school-age kiddo?
Skagit Kid Insider is a great resource available to you for local options! Here you can find a helpful list of before and after-school care programs here in Skagit County. The YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and more local organizations offer safe places for kids when they can’t be at home. Many of these providers are even located right at your child’s school or at a location nearby!
Finding safe, reliable—and affordable—child care can be an overwhelming process, even under normal circumstances. Thankfully, there are people and agencies available who want to help!
If, after calling the Family Center Helpline at 1-800-446-1114 and reviewing available options online, you still need more assistance, we’ve got you! Call or text 360-630-8352 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with someone at HelpMeGrow Skagit. You can also fill out an online form here and you will be contacted by one of their staff promptly.