Washington state lawmakers are considering a massive cut to the state’s Working Connections Child Care program. Losing this subsidy would be devastating to thousands of parents who are working hard to lift their families out of poverty. It could force them to quit their jobs or stop looking for work.
The Washington State Budget and Policy Center reports that having two children at a child care center costs about $1,177 per month on average. That’s more than half the total monthly income of a family earning $24,000 a year.
About 17,000 families would be kicked off Working Connections or denied a slot if the Legislature adopts the nearly $89 million cut that Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed in her December budget. (The governor's latest proposal, which relies on much-needed new revenue, calls for an almost $50 million cut; we estimate that could leave about 7,000 families in the lurch.)
Parents like Arnold and Ling Huan Lui, who are bakers with twins enrolled in Denise Louie Education Center’s full-day child care program, rely on Working Connections to make ends meet.
“Basically, my wife’s income goes to insurance and child care. Because of the WCCC, we don’t have to rely on other government assistance,” Lui told Janice Deguchi, the center’s executive director, who wrote about the family in a commentary published in the Northwest Asian Weekly.
Another parent, named in Examiner.com as Tara B., said: "I receive assistance from the state and if I had to pay for child care full-price, it would eat up half my entire paycheck so it wouldn't make it worthwhile to work. I'd have to either work part-time, which wouldn't make sense, or quit and go on welfare and food stamps, which I don't want to do."
“Now is not the time to reduce child care assistance to working families,” Jon Gould, deputy director of the Children’s Alliance, told Examiner.com. “The cut would also hurt child care providers, many of whom are struggling small businesses.”
Get involved and urge your lawmakers to protect Working Connections.
– Liz Gillespie