DEEL is also supporting a series of job fair events this September to draw more workers to the child care profession and support preschool and child care classrooms in the coming school year.
* Payments for all child care staff before payroll taxes: $503
This week, payments will begin going out to 631 Seattle providers who are receiving a flexible-spending stabilization grant from the City’s Department of Education and Early Learning to support ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, 4,589 Seattle child care workers will receive a one-time staff retention payment between $400-500, as part of $7.4 million in joint funding from the City of Seattle and King County to support the region’s child care workers.
The City of Seattle provided $2.4 million from Jump Start Payroll Expense Tax funding, first announced in June, to support child care workers and businesses in Seattle, combining efforts with King County, whose $5 million from the Best Starts for Kids levy is to incentivize ongoing retention of child care providers in the county. This represented the third round of DEEL funding to support child care providers during the pandemic, with previous awards in December 2021 ($2.9M) and February 2021 ($2.3M).
“Child care programs are struggling to rebuild from the financial impacts and staffing shortages of the pandemic,” said Susan Brown, spokesperson for the Greater Seattle Child Care Business Coalition (GSCCBC) and CEO for Kids Co., a Seattle child care provider with 11 sites around the city. “The City of Seattle Child Care Stabilization Grants are a lifeline to helping sustain child care programs so we can continue to serve the child care needs of working and student families.”
Child care business stabilization grants can be spent on a variety of business needs, including mental health supports for children or staff, health and nutrition activities, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, or contributing to payroll costs. Grants of $1,000 will go to 365 Family Child Care providers around the city. Additionally, 215 child care centers and 51 school-age programs will receive stabilization grants, with amounts calculated based on the provider’s licensed capacity.
More Than 12,000 Workers Countywide Will Receive Retention Payments
Countywide, more than 12,300 child care professionals will receive a one-time child care retention payment. Nearly 90 percent of King County’s licensed child care providers applied for the payments, which are intended to boost an industry facing a severe staffing crisis and prolonged financial impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the number of applications, these one-time retention payments will be between $400-$500 per child care worker.
Child Care Resources (CCR) is once again partnering to distribute payments to providers across the region, after supporting the application process with technical assistance and a provider helpline. Staff payments will be distributed through employers’ payroll processes after being received from Child Care Resources.
“DEEL is so pleased that these payments are getting out the door to support our amazing partners in the child care community,” said DEEL Director Dr. Dwane Chappelle. “We’re so grateful to our city’s child care workforce for everything they do to provide safe, nurturing spaces for our children to learn and grow. I also want to thank our partners at Child Care Resources for their work supporting providers and providing technical assistance, and to our partners at King County for all their work in this effort.”
Of the 12,359 child care workers who will receive one of the payments, which are scheduled to go out between August and October of this year, 81% are women and nearly 60% identified as people of color. While these one-time payments do not eradicate the pay inequities faced by women of color in a historically undervalued profession, they are intended to reflect the acknowledgment by City and County officials that more is needed to support child care workers in our region.
“Child care workers showed up every day for our city’s children and families throughout the pandemic, and now it is our turn to show up for them,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell in a press statement that was released Tuesday. “Our OneSeattle vision is to partner with the child care community to build a sustainable future where families have access to high-quality, affordable care, and where providers can earn a thriving wage that reflects the value they provide to our economy.”
In Tuesday’s press statement, Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) said, “Child care workers have served on the frontlines of our pandemic to ensure our city’s kiddos are cared for and safe, and that working families can continue to balance work and childcare. Despite being in one of our state’s most underpaid professions, child care workers continue to show up for our community when we need it most. Thank you to all those who serve and to our community partners who have made these payments possible.”
SEIU 925 Vice President Cindy Elizalde said, “Child care providers have been crucial to getting us through the pandemic and economic recovery. These grants will go a long way to help child care small business owners stay open so that kids can be safe and parents can work.”
Child Care Staffing Crisis Threatens to Close Classrooms Across the City
Data obtained from applications for the child care retention payments and Seattle stabilization grants showed that 61% of child care centers in Seattle (excluding family child care or school-age programs) consider themselves to be understaffed. For many, this has meant closing classrooms or turning away families due to staff-to-child ratios being too low.
“The pandemic has presented challenges that, even after more than 30 years of experience in child care, I could never have imagined,” GSCCBC founder and Kids Co. CEO Susan Brown shared. “Our capacity to provide care to kids is directly tied to staffing. The child care sector couldn’t meet the demand for child care, pre-pandemic, because of the staffing shortage. Now the current staffing crisis is keeping classrooms and in some cases, whole child care centers from re-opening. We need good people to enter the child care profession now more than ever. Without child care, there is no economic recovery. Without staff, there is no child care.”
Grace Alams, Director of Creative Kids Learning Center, shared her thoughts about the the City and King County’s staff retention payments: “To retain good staff, you have to value them, not only in words, but in deeds. Over the last year, it has been so great to have my staff be acknowledged, not just by me, but by the City, the County, and the State. Child care has been looked down on for so many years, and it has really been great to have us finally receive this recognition, so that our staff know that they are valued within the community.”
September Job Fair Aims to Draw New Workers to the Industry
To further support the child care community in Seattle and address staffing impacts that are threatening to affect preschool and child care classrooms this coming school year, DEEL is supporting a series of job fair events this September organized by the Greater Seattle Child Care Business Coalition (GSCCBC).
Job fair organizers are planning to have multiple events across the city between September 15-22, to help attract more workers to the industry. GSCCBC members are promoting competitive entry level pay, professional growth opportunities, meaningful work that supports families and communities, and stable hours with evenings, weekends, and major holidays free.
Upcoming dates for the Greater Seattle Child Care Business Coalition Job Fair:
• Bitter Lake Community Center (North) – Thurs, Sept 15 , 6:30-8:30 pm
• Garfield Community Center (Central) – Sat, Sept 17, 10 am-Noon
• Rainier Beach Community Center (South) – Sat, Sept 17, 10 am-Noon
• Miller Community Center (Central) – Thurs, Sept 22, 6:30-8:30 pm
More information on the job fair events will be published soon on DEEL’s blog and through our Child Care News email list. To subscribe for updates from DEEL Child Care News, sign up here.