Working to transform the child welfare system.

SB 5436: Concerning child care access

Establishes the Washington Childcare Access Now (CAN) Act in order to ensure that all children and families in WA have access to safe and enriching child care.

The legislature intends to promote high quality, affordable, and accessible child care from diverse providers to families with children from birth-5 years old by:

  • Capping family child care expenses at 7% of a family’s income for subsidized child care;
  • Setting Working Connections Child Care subsidy rates at a sufficient level to fund basic components of quality, reflect regional differences, and competitively compensate caregivers; and
  • Establishing the goal of universal child care access for all WA families by 2025.

This bill also establishes the creation of the Child Care Access work group, whose membership must consist of:

  • 12 members appointed by the governor representing:
  • 2 family home child care providers;
  • 2 child care center providers;
  • A statewide union representing child care workers and family providers;
  • An association representing the interests of child care centers;
  • A parent representative;
  • An early learning advocacy organization;
  • An early learning policy expert; and
  • A representative of the business community.
  • 2 members of the Senate, appointed by the president of the Senate; and
  • 2 members of the House of Representatives, appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives

The workgroup will be responsible for various tasks, including:

  • Developing a regional mechanism to measure the cost of quality that can be used to determine child subsidy rates;
  • Considering how the measure of area median income could be used in place of federal poverty level when determining eligibility for child care subsidy;
  • Evaluating recommendations on compensation and consideration of pay-scale changes for providers; and
  • Developing a phased implementation plan for policy changes to the Working Connections Child Care program that focus on racial equity by targeting support for providers that serve underserved children.

All findings and the implementation plan must be submitted by the work group to the governor and appropriate committees of the legislature by July 1st, 2020.