The Washington State Department of Commerce announced on Thursday that $1,368,000 in grants will be going to 16 organizations to fund efforts to expand child care capacity in 14 communities throughout the state.
“Access to affordable, quality child care is an imperative for our state’s economic recovery. Thousands of parents in Washington were either paying more than they could afford, or struggling to find quality child care facilities and programs near where they live or work before COVID-19,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown, citing data from a recently-released child care industry assessment study commissioned by the state Child Care Collaborative Task Force that showed one in five parents turned down a job offer or promotion because of child care issues.
The public health crisis makes lack of child care capacity has become even more apparent, with the temporary and permanent closure of numerous facilities just as parents are returning to work and school restarts.
Brown noted that the complexities of care for school-aged kids will be important for grantees to include in their local needs assessments and planning processes. The industry assessment provides robust data and parent survey information to help guide the state and prospective community-based partnerships.
This first round of community partnership grants will fund projects through June 30, 2021 in Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Island, King, Klickitat, Pend Oreille, King, Snohomish, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston and Whatcom counties.
A second round of grant applications opened Aug. 17 and will close on Sept. 11, 2020 at 5 p.m. PST. More information and all application materials are posted here.
First round child care partnership grantees are:
- City of Airway Heights, $57,200 – Airway Heights Child Care Feasibility Study project serving the city of Airway Heights and West Plains community in Spokane County
- Community Minded Enterprises, $100,000 – Zone Child Care Partnership project serving The Zone neighborhood of Northeast Spokane in Spokane County
- Cowlitz Community Network, $60,000 – Child Care Access Report project serving Cowlitz County
- Granite Falls Community Coalition, $60,000 – Smart Start Partnership project serving Granite Falls community in Snohomish County
- Greater Trinity Academy, $98,500 – Child Care Assessment and Expansion of Service Planning project serving Everett and Mukilteo school district communities in Snohomish County
- Island County, $100,000 – Island County Child Care Collaborative project
- Jasmin Ministries, $63,300 – Quality, Culturally Appropriate and Affordable Child Care/Early Learning for Black Families project serving neighborhoods in Spokane
- Jefferson Healthcare, $91,500 – Caring For The Future: East Jefferson County Rural Child Care Partnership project
- Pend Oreille Public Utilities District, $100,000 – Pend Oreille Child Care Feasibility Study project
- Positive Learning Assistance Network, $100,000 – African-American Coalition for Early Learning project serving communities in Seattle and King County
- Rural Resources Community Action, $100,000 – Colville Valley Early Childhood Campus Planning Grant project serving Stevens County
- Support for Early Learning & Families, $100,000 – Southwest Washington Child Care Partnership: Increasing Neighborhood Care project serving Vancouver, Clark County
- Thurston Economic Development Council, $60,000 – Grays Harbor, Mason and Thurston County Child Care Collaborative project
- United Way of Whatcom County, $82,500 – Child Care Collaborative of Whatcom County project
- Washington Gorge Action Programs, $100,000 – Child Care Committee of Klickitat County – Goldendale Child Care project serving the greater Goldendale community
- White Center Community Development Association, $95,000 – White Center Children’s Coalition project serving White Center and North Highline communities in King County
“The Child Care Partnership Grant supports us in hearing the voices of our families, including those who represent underserved populations. As we identify barriers, we will collectively design the supports that help families prepare their children to succeed,” said Dr. Karin Manns, Assistant Superintendent, Granite Falls School District and Co-Chair, Granite Falls Community Coalition Early Childhood Team. The coalition will use grant funds to assess needs and barriers, and prepare community organizations to make child care and developmental services more accessible to low-income, underserved families in the east Snohomish County community.
Commerce established the Safe Start Fund in partnership with Seattle Foundation to support economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic with a public health and equity focus. The Safe Start Fund accepts contributions from individual donors, foundations and corporations, including donations through All in WA, a broad-based philanthropic platform promoting cause and community funds to support workers, families and communities impacted by COVID-19 across Washington state.
“Child care providers are a backbone of our community. They are making it possible for parents and caregivers to work on the frontlines by teaching and caring for our region’s youngest learners. The immense amount of interest in these grants demonstrates the need to address the child care capacity crisis statewide, particularly in underserved areas and communities,” said Tony Mestres, President and CEO of Seattle Foundation. Seattle Foundation is hosting the All In WA campaign, on behalf of the nearly 50 cause and community funds, including the Safe Start Fund.
“It is critical that all kids in our state have access to great care during their first few years of life, as it can help set the foundation for their future learning, behavior, and health. We are proud to support this unique collaboration that centers community voices, helps to aid economic recovery, and aims to meet the needs of every family that needs care,” said Andi Smith, Executive Director of Washington at Ballmer Group.
Grantees will receive 50% of the award from state general funds administered by Commerce, and a 50% match from the Safe Start Fund for a Healthy Economic Transition and Recovery.