Gov. Inslee signs affordable childcare access bill

May 3, 2023, 9:00 AM | Updated: 4:12 pm

affordable childcare...

Childcare may soon become more affordable under a new law. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

A new law simultaneously increasing access to affordable childcare and strengthening Washington’s childcare workforce is now on the books. 

Senate Bill 5225 aims to allow more families to qualify for state-subsidized childcare through the Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) program — which is set to expand its eligibility.

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“Expanding eligibility to more families will not only result in children getting more care, but it will also make for a strong, stable, and available workforce,” Senator Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the creator of the bill, said in a prepared statement. 

Gov. Inslee signed the bill into law Tuesday.

The Senate passed the bill in March before landing on the governor’s desk. The bill passed on a 36-13 vote before moving through the House on an 81-16 vote.

The bill would also expand eligibility for families in the therapeutic court system, support a parent’s success, and also provide stable, consistent care for their children. SB 5225 would additionally provide access to childcare for parents who, because of documentation status, are not eligible for the program.  

WCCC was created to help eligible families pay for child care. When a family qualifies for childcare subsidy benefits and chooses an eligible provider, the state pays a portion of the cost of child care.

To be eligible, the family’s income must be at or below 60% of the state median income at application or 65% of the state medium income when reapplying. The family must also have resources under $1 million while being legal citizens of the U.S. actively living in Washington state.

Alongside SB 5225, Wilson is also spearheading Senate Bill 5316, which would have the state cover costs for background checks, including fingerprinting, of applicants at childcare centers. The bill would also cover annual licensing fees for daycare centers and the licensing costs for in-home providers, costing approximately $200 in total. SB 5316 is currently on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature.

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Wilson cited childcare providers struggling to hire and retain employees due to staff being forced to forego work due to their own personal struggles finding childcare.

Wilson claimed SB 5225 would alleviate these issues by allowing these providers to be eligible for the subsidy and helping them return to work.

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Gov. Inslee signs affordable childcare access bill