Looking for Child Care in Skagit County? There’s Help Available!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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:

State median income by household size.
  1. 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.
  2. 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?

Screenshot from Child Care Aware WA search function.

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 1-800-4461114. 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 helpmegrowskagit@gmail.com 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.


Are playgrounds re-opening? What you need to know.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I was scrolling through my social media newsfeed on a recent Saturday morning, when a particular post caught my eye: Mount Vernon playgrounds have re-opened. As a mom of a toddler who has been shut out of all playgrounds and splash-pads this summer, I nearly jumped for joy. My first thought was, “FINALLY! Shoes on! Let’s go!” … But then reality set in. Is it too soon? Is it safe? All the anxieties of the past six months flooded my brain and I spent the rest of the morning debating about our next move.

After quickly scoping out our nearest park, I decided that we would give it a try. My daughter couldn’t put her shoes on fast enough when I told her we could go. Before I knew it, we were walking up to her favorite twisty slide, and she looked back at me with reservation in her eyes. It felt so alien to be at a playground again, and even weirder to encourage her to climb onto the steps.  

All in all, it was a wonderful morning. She had a blast! But I was glad that I’d talked to my daughter about my expectations before we went, and about how we had to continue to be careful about keeping our distance when around others. Here are some things that I took into account before we left the house that may be helpful for you and your family.

Talk to your child about keeping their distance

Even though playgrounds may be reopening, we should be trying our best to keep a six-foot distance from others, and this can be really hard to accomplish between children at a playground! Talk to your child before you leave the house about what your expectations are, and even practice what six feet looks like. Discuss some things that your child can say if another child is getting too close, and reassure them that you will be there to help them.

Note: While you may be able to control what your own child is doing, it may be difficult to make sure other children are keeping their distance. Stay close to your child and discuss any concerns that you may have with the parents/caregivers of the other children at the playground (if it becomes problematic). If it is too difficult to keep distance, be prepared to leave.

Go during “non-peak” hours

Go to the playground when it isn’t busy, and leave (or take a snack break and come back) if it gets crowded. Though the park was empty when we arrived in mid-morning, within several minutes we were greeted by two other families. I think if we went again, I’d make a point to go earlier (since it was a sunny Saturday, after all) or maybe even a bit later in the afternoon. Keeping your distance—as mentioned above—is much easier to achieve if the playground isn’t crowded.

Take the usual health precautions

This is nothing new, but it is important to keep in mind regardless! Adults and children must wear masks when at the playground (exception being children younger than two  years old and those with health exemptions), and sanitize your hands often. Bring some hand sanitizer with you to have in your pocket, and talk to your child about avoiding touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.

Be sure to follow the signs!

Some parks may not have opened their restroom facilities yet, so make alternate plans for going to the restroom. If the facilities are open, be sure to wear your mask and try to avoid congregating in big crowds. When you are using the restroom families, take the opportunity to wash everyone’s hands! Hand sanitizer is great, but nothing beats good, old-fashioned soap and water.

Weigh the pros and cons

I had to wrestle with the pros and cons of going back to the playground and even made a few false starts before we actually made it there that morning. Even though being outdoors lowers the risks of infection, there are absolutely some risks associated with crowding and contaminated surfaces. In the end, I trust the benefits to our mental health outweigh the potential risks. That being said, I made sure to follow instructions on all posted signage, and practiced safe distancing and proper hygiene throughout our trip. I also don’t know if we will continue to go if the parks begin to get crowded. I guess I’ll make that judgment call when and if the time comes.  

Take care of yourself, and take care of others. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen!