Working Connections subsidies make child care affordable for thousands of low-income families across Washington. But many families have to reapply several times a year to keep their kids enrolled – penalizing parents for slight changes in income that don’t make them ineligible, for losing a job, or for changing child care providers.
The result: Parents who are still eligible get mistakenly kicked off the system, and their children lose access to child care for weeks or months – disrupting their mom’s or dad’s ability to work.
The Children’s Alliance and our Early Learning Action Alliance partners led a successful push this year to get the Legislature to cut the red tape that required such frequent reauthorizations for Working Connections.
New rules are supposed to alleviate some of this burden for parents by requiring families to reapply only once a year – beginning with those whose kids attend publicly funded child care and preschool.
But draft rules proposed by the Department of Early Learning (DEL) don’t do enough to change the status quo. Families would have to reapply if their income changed even slightly or if a parent lost his or her job temporarily.
We’re calling for two common-sense changes that would give low-income families the benefit of more continuous care:
- Allow family income to increase or decrease by $250 or less per month before requiring them to reapply for Working Connections.
- Give parents who lose their jobs six months to find another one before taking away their child care subsidies.
Read more in these talking points from the Early Learning Action Alliance.
DEL is holding a series of public hearings this week (see details below) to get input from parents and providers.
Spanish interpreters will be at the hearings in Bellingham, Seattle and Yakima. Somali interpreters also will be at the Seattle hearing. There will be brief written explanations of the draft rules in Russian, Chinese, Spanish and Somali at the hearings that do not have translation services, and people will be able to write comments, which DEL will have interpreted.
This is your chance to be heard. If you can’t make it to a hearing, you can submit comments online and read other people’s comments here (click on the “Add Comment” button in the proposed rules chart at the bottom of the page).
Tuesday, June 22 - 6 p.m.
Bellingham Public Library—Fairhaven Branch Auditorium
1117 12th Street
Wednesday, June 23 - 6 p.m.
Tacoma Public Library—Main Downtown Branch Auditorium
1102 Tacoma Avenue South
Thursday, June 24 - 5:30 p.m.
Seattle Public Library—Beacon Hill Branch
2821 Beacon Avenue South
Friday, June 25 - 6 p.m.
DSHS Yakima Valley School—Training room
609 Speyers Road, Selah
Saturday, June 26 - 1 p.m.
Spokane Public Library—Shadle Branch
West 2111 Wellesley Ave.
— Leslie Dozono, Children’s Alliance early learning policy coordinator