Today, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell joined child care partners to announce the opening of applications for the 2022 Child Care Retention Payments, a one-time retention bonus payment to child care workers across the county, as well as a new round of stabilization grants for Seattle providers provided by the Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL). A total of $7.4 million in joint funding will be available for eligible providers through both opportunities, including $5 million from the King County Best Starts for Kids levy and $2.4 million from the Seattle JumpStart Payroll Expense Tax. Payments are expected to reach more than 9,000 child care workers across the county.
This represents the third round of funding DEEL has provided in support of child care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In early 2021, DEEL provided more than 500 grants totaling $2.3 million to help stabilize child care businesses in Seattle, many of which had remained open from the earliest days of the pandemic. In September 2021, a second round of supports was opened, providing $2.9 million in recognition payments to more than 3,500 child care workers.
Eligibility for the 2022 Child Care Retention Payments includes all child care staff working at child care programs within King County that are licensed by the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), including both full-time and part-time staff. Application for payments should be filled out by the employer (or in the case of Family Child Care programs, the licensee), and grants will be distributed by the child care program to all eligible staff via the program’s payroll system.
DCYF-licensed providers located within Seattle city limits can also apply for flexible-spending grants for business stabilization. Providers can use these one-time stabilizing grants for multiple uses, including mental health supports for children or staff, health and nutrition activities, cleaning or sanitizing supplies, or contributing to payroll costs, among other business needs.
In the months ahead, DEEL and King County will continue their partnership in support of a healthy regional child care system, including ongoing collaboration around a regional child care subsidy program as well as a cost of care study that will help City and County leaders understand the true cost of providing quality child care.
Partnering with DEEL and King County in this effort is Child Care Resources, who also supported DEEL’s 2021 child care funding opportunities. Child Care Resources (CCR) is offering information sessions about how to navigate the application process, facilitating questions from the provider community about the grants, and providing in-language assistance for English-limited providers.
In addition to our partners at CCR, DEEL would also like to extend our gratitude to the Greater Seattle Child Care Business Coalition, who has advocated for the ongoing needs of the child care community in Seattle and provided valuable insight to DEEL in planning for the development and execution of these grants.
Applications for the 2022 Child Care Retention Payments and Seattle Stabilization Grants are now open and will be available in English, Spanish, Somali, Amharic, Simplified Chinese, and Vietnamese. Child Care Resources will be distributing the funds on behalf of the City of Seattle and King County once applications are processed. The application period will close Monday, June 27, at 11:59 p.m.