Circle Time Autumn 2017
Child Care Resources Newsletter Autumn 2017
Circle Time: noun 1. a time in which young children sit together and share news and stories
This is my favorite time of year. The color of beautiful leaves, the crisp clean air, the surprise of unexpected warm sunshine, the possibility (or this year, the reality) of snow, and some focused time to remember and to express gratitude. This year will be a different year for our family as our oldest daughter will spend her first holiday away from us in order to be with her husband’s family. We are grateful to see our children launch into their independent adult lives AND it is hard to let them go as well. Suddenly traditions need to change and evolve yet the love stays the same.
Child Care Resources has most certainly grown up as well in the last few years. Organizations have developmental milestones much like children. And if we are lucky, we are able to develop an organization so it addresses more and more of its mission calling; this is certainly the case for CCR. This year I am again grateful to lead an amazing staff at CCR that supports child care providers, caregivers, and families to positively impact children’s early learning experiences. I am so proud to be a part of all CCR is accomplishing and hope you, as donors and supporters, are as well.
Increasing demand: the second in a two-part series
In last quarter’s newsletter we discussed the limited supply of child care options for families in our region and the reasons the number of child care providers has decreased 14% over the past five years. Rising property value/leases, higher minimum wage, increasing and costly licensing requirements, and public subsidy reimbursement rates much lower than full tuition make it harder and harder for child care businesses to keep their doors open, and to keep slots available for children receiving public subsidy. As the number of child care slots is at risk, the demand for child care in the Puget Sound is, and will continue to increase over the next few years thanks to a booming economy.
What is driving demand? According the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2016 Seattle experienced a 3.1% growth in our population, making us the fastest growing city in America for the second time in the last five years. Nearly 60 people move to Seattle each day! With the Chamber of Commerce projecting more than 740,000 jobs opening statewide between 2016 and 2021, the great migration to the great Northwest shows no signs of slowing down soon. All these employment opportunities, combined with rising home prices unaffordable to most, means that most households will need two incomes to survive in this economy. Which means, if they have children, they will need child care.
What will happen as demand increases? Inequality. As child care sites struggle with increasing expenses, many will have to choose to accept fewer children on public child care subsidy, as providers are reimbursed only 50-75% of what a full-paying family could pay. More full-paying customers will unfortunately be what some sites need simply to meet the costs of maintaining quality care. While this will result in slightly more slots for full-paying middle- to higher-income families, it will make quality child care even less accessible for low-income and single-parent families who need it most. Think of the many ways the lives of a low-income family are impacted if they cannot find child care and a parent has to quit working.
With increasing demand creating a sense of competition in some Puget Sound neighborhoods, some centers charge a fee to be added to a waitlist. Waitlist fees can be as high as $200 per child, and some Seattle parents find themselves on waitlists 24 months long.1 Infant care is particularly competitive, with sibling and employer preferences leaving most families with no options. Says Seattle mom Maggie Williams, “one child care director told me that because infant care has such a small profit margin, their infant care room was simply a benefit for their current families who had an older child in their care—meaning they don’t typically have the space to accept new families with infants. That is fairly common practice, and the only way we obtained infant care for our son a few years later.” Also contributing to unequal access is the fact that some employers, like Home Depot, Starbucks, and the University of Washington, subsidize particular child care centers in exchange for priority for their employees’ children—bumping parents’ spot up on the waitlist.
“We spent over $1,000 in waitlist fees — many of which I never heard from again.”2
Is there a solution? At CCR, we think about this every day. While some of our programs contribute to increasing and maintaining the child care workforce, we need more voices to join us in our advocating for higher pay and professional development for child care professionals, higher subsidy reimbursement rates and more full-time, year-round ECEAP slots for low-income children and families for whom child care will become less and less accessible. We, as a community, need to encourage our leaders to prioritize making child care available to all families and ensuring child care businesses have the resources they need to provide a living wage for their staff and a rich early learning environment for our children. Otherwise, we are clearly headed for a child care crisis.
1Cook, Caley. "King County's daycare dilema." Crosscut. Retrieved from http://crosscut.com/2014/09/parents-seek-alternatives-tough-seattle-childcare/.
2Deahl, Jessica. "Child Care Scarcity Has Very Real Consequences For Working Families." National Public Radio, All Things Considered. Retreived from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/01/03/506448993/child-care-scarcity-has-very-real-consequences-for-working-families.
Jennifer is the Kaleidoscope Play & Learn Lead
within the FFN team, which supports Family, Friend, and Neighbor caregivers.
1. What she’s currently working on: My team is developing an early math curriculum for KP&L facilitators to inte
grate into their weekly groups.
2. Favorite thing about her job: I love working with the KP&L facilitators, hearing their stories from the field and supporting them to be successful with their weekly Play & Learn groups. Developing relationships with service providers and program administrators, offering resources and support, and spending time with families in the field brings richness to my work in the Seattle-Weller office. It is a great combination that keeps me on my toes and keeps things interesting!
3. A recent challenge in her work: Our biggest challenge continues to be funding, in that the Kaleidoscope Play & Learn program relies on multiple funding sources to do the work we do. I am passionate about supporting familie
s, and would like to see more communities have access to high quality early learning opportunities of all kinds, including drop-in play and learn groups like Kaleidoscope.
4. Favorite children’s book or game: One of my favorite children’s books was Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, which took place in the Boston Public Gardens - the park where I spent much of my childhood.
5. Something cool that people don’t know about her: In addition to working at the UW and having two young children of my own, I was also a certified doula for many years. This involved supporting women through pregnancy and childbirth, and allowed me to be present for many of my friends’ birthing experiences, then watching their children grow up with my own kids. It is such a gift to be present at this magical time, and something that I still treasure; positively supporting families should begin even before their babies are born - start early!
CCR Early Achievers Coach Daniel Perez-Gibson leading the crowd of 150 child care professionals through breathing exercises during his keynote presentation at CCR's 2017 Fall Child Care Conference in Bellevue
Join us on November 30th at Reuben's Brews in Ballard! Reuben's Brews is donating $1 per pint sold to Child Care Resources from 3 pm - 9 pm. Children & dogs welcome!