(The Center Square) – More than 12,300 child care professionals throughout King County will receive a one-time child care retention payment between $400 and $500.
The funding, which will be distributed starting today and through September, is part of Seattle and King County’s joint efforts to support child-care workers across the region with a combined $7.4 million.
Grants of $1,000 to $5,000 will also be distributed to 365 family child care providers across Seattle as part of the $7.4 million. The City of Seattle said an additional 215 child care centers and 51 school-age programs would receive stabilization grants, with amounts calculated based on each provider’s licensed capacity.
This joint effort by the city and King County was first announced in June. At that time, county and city officials estimated that more than 9,000 child care workers would receive the payment.
However, nearly 90% of licensed child care providers in King County applied for the payments intended to boost the industry from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the City of Seattle. This resulted in more than 12,300 providers receiving retention payments.
“Child care programs are struggling to rebuild from the financial impacts and staffing shortages of the pandemic,” Susan Brown, founder of the Greater Seattle Child Care Business Coalition, said in a statement. “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.”
Funds from the Child Care Business Stabilization Grants are intended to be spent on business needs, such as mental health supports for children or staff, health and nutrition activities, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, or contributing to payroll costs, according to the City of Seattle.
Through the applications for the retention payments and Seattle stabilization grants, data collected showed that 61% of child care centers in Seattle consider themselves understaffed. The city said this has resulted in closing classrooms or turning away children due to low staff-to-child ratios.
Out of the total $7.4 million, Seattle provided $2.4 million from Jump Start Payroll Expense Tax, which only applies to the larger companies who do business in Seattle, with more than $7 million in payroll and only applied to salaries those companies pay that totals $150,000 or more. Last year, the payroll tax brought in $231 million to the city.
King County funded $5 million from its Best Starts for Kids levy to incentivize the ongoing retention of child care providers in the county. The six-year property tax began this year at $0.19 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or about $114 per year for a median-priced King County home, according to the county.