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Study Outlines True Cost of Child Care in Seattle and King County

In July 2021, the City of Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) and King County Best Starts for Kids jointly commissioned a report to build upon work done by P5 Fiscal Strategies for the statewide Washington Child Care Collaborative Task Force to understand the true cost of child care.  

This local report affirms prior findings that the cost of child care is higher in Seattle and King County than in any other area of the state. The report further highlights that compared to funding for K-12 education, “the responsibility for paying for child care falls primarily on families, with total federal and state funding accounting for less than 40% of the total industry revenue.”  

Fair Start for Kids Act investments and recommendations from the WA State Child Care Collaborative Task Force have started us towards the goal of affordability and access for families and support for providers. Information learned from this report will be used to inform administration of the City’s Child Care Assistance Program and continued advocacy for increased investment in the child care sector at state and federal levels.  

“Child Care is essential to a thriving economy and ensuring that young children are safe and healthy. But it is also a fragile system where workers are underpaid and families struggle to afford care,” said Leilani Dela Cruz, DEEL’s Early Learning Director. “While the City continues to do its part to support this critical sector, it’s clear that additional foundational funding is needed at the state and federal levels.” 

DEEL is proud to support the child care workforce through Staff Retention Payments. A fifth round of worker retention payments was funded in the City’s 2024 budget, and the timeline for the application is expected to be announced later this Spring.

Visit our Reports and Data section to read the report.