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Sen. Murray reintroduces child care act to help providers, families

A first grade student at the Green Mountain School waits to leave class at the end of the day on Feb. 18, 2021 in Woodland, Washington. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been putting a strain on child care providers in our state, with hundreds forced to close over the last year.

Report: Pandemic stressing Washington’s ‘already fragile’ child care system

“I understood that the time would come when I would be faced with the difficult decision to choose between closing the doors to my center or to remain open to serve our families,” said Lois Martin, owner and director of Community Based Center for Children in Seattle.

Martin had to close her doors last year.

“But a year later, we are still standing thanks to CARES Act funding from local, state, and federal sources, along with other grant monies,” she said.

That assistance and funding still isn’t enough, especially for families who can’t afford to send their kids to daycare.

Patty Lou, a local mother of two, was laid off last year.

“Being down in income while still paying upwards of $1,000 per month for child care that I was now providing at home was both frightening and disappointingly necessary,” she said.

What struggles of child care centers could mean for Washington parents

This week, Senator Patty Murray reintroduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, which she first introduced in 2017.

“Now is the time that we have to take action to address the child care crisis that has long existed here in Washington state and across the entire country,” Murray said.

“The more we talk to people and the more we convince people that this is a problem, they recognize it in their own families as well,” Murray added.

The legislation would establish grants for states to create preschool programs for low to moderate income families with children between the ages of 3-5 years old.

“Child care is finally becoming an actual, real conversation in Congress, and we’re trying to take advantage of that now,” Sen. Murray said.

The senator says child care is a critical part of our state’s infrastructure and funds must support families, providers, and prevent more closures.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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