Dear friends and neighbors:
Years from now, we will remember the Fair Start for Kids Act (SB 5237) as a landmark achievement of the 2021 legislative session.
Our childcare and early learning system was in crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic. After more than a year of economic disruption, and the system is on the brink of collapse in many communities. Working parents in Washington forgo $14 billion a year in lost wages due to the lack of childcare access.
The Fair Start for Kids Act takes multi-faceted approach to solving the childcare crisis, addressing racial equity and helping the economy by:
- Stabilizing and expanding the childcare industry through increased subsidy rates and resources for professional development, complex needs, non-standard hour care, and trauma-informed care;
- Making childcare more affordable through reduced copays for families accessing Working Connections Childcare subsidies and extended eligibility to more families;
- Making childcare and early learning more accessible through expanded eligibility and access to more services; and
- Strengthening prevention and intervention services such as mental health consultation, home visits, equity grants, dual-language supports and early intervention services.
The Legislature appropriated nearly $1 billion to help improve access to these vital services. I look forward to seeing the results of these investments in the months and years to come.
Right now, the state Department of Children, Youth and Families is accepting applications for grants providing direct support to licensed childcare providers to offset increased costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The application is open through noon on May 20. Visit https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/coronavirus-covid-19/early-learning/covid19-grant-spring21 for application instructions.
Vaccines available to all adults
Thank you to everyone doing your part to keep our community safe as we work to reach community immunity. Anyone 16 years or older in Washington is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. You can sign up directly for a vaccination appointment today at any of the four City of Seattle-affiliated sites at Lumen Field, North Seattle, Rainier Beach, and West Seattle. The city expects to have thousands of appointments available in the next two weeks at all four sites, and it’s easy to make an appointment at this website: https://seattle.signetic.com/home
Thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter. I will continue to share updates on news from the 2021 legislative session in the coming weeks. If you missed last week’s update on police accountability legislation, click here.