Nearly $20 million to child care: County accepting proposals to increase child care access


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EVERETT — Snohomish County is now accepting proposals — that can range from $500,000 to $2 million — to increase access to child care in the county.

The goal is to create more licensed slots, or available space, at child care facilities through construction and renovation projects. Ideally, those projects would be in child care access deserts.

Everett, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mill Creek, Arlington, Darrington and the Tulalip Reservation are just some of the places in Snohomish County with zip codes that are considered deserts, according to data from the state Department of Children, Youth and Families.

“The effects of child care deserts across our county impact all of us, but they have an even more acute impact on women, who are pushed out of the job market at higher rates due to the extremely high cost of child care,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers.

Somers announced the application’s opening Tuesday, following the Nov. 2 announcement of a $7.8 million investment in child care access. The county has now invested a total of nearly $20 million of its American Rescue Plan Act allocation to support and expand affordable and accessible child care.

Providers must apply for funding.

The county will receive applications and dole out the cash based on eligibility requirements, like being located in Snohomish County and committed to increasing the total number of licensed slots for children.

Construction projects that increase physical space — such as classrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and playgrounds — are preferred. Requests for less permanent items, like equipment and furniture, are ineligible for funding.

“Child care can be a huge barrier for entry into the workforce. I encourage providers to apply for this historic funding opportunity,” said council member Nate Nehring.

Back in July, Everett’s Way to Grow Early Learning Center closed its doors, blindsiding families and eliminating 59 slots for children. Child care issues, like long wait lists and high prices, caused 27% of parents to quit their jobs, leave school or leave a training programs, according to a study published in 2019.

Last year, nearly 35,000 children in Snohomish County needed child care services, but just shy of 10,000 spots were available through licensed centers locally, according to the Department of Children, Youth and Families.

According to a 2021 report from Washington’s Child Care Collaborative Task Force, the cost of full-time child care for an infant and a child in pre-K can equal up to 35% of a two-parent family’s income and reach 150% of a single parent’s income.

The federal government dispersed ARPA aid nationally in an effort to quell the economic impact of COVID-19, and Snohomish County received roughly $160 million.

“A plan to equitably recover from the impacts of COVID is incomplete without investing in child care, child care providers, and the young people who need mental and behavioral health services,” Somers said.

Organizations can access details through the county’s website in the document center under “Child Care Facilities Capital NOFA 2023 Application” and can email questions to [email protected].

The county will host one remote technical assistance session. Attendance is strongly recommended for interested applicants. It will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 6.

Final applications are due Jan. 13, 2023.

Kayla J. Dunn: 425-339-3449; [email protected]; Twitter: @KaylaJ_Dunn.

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