Are you (or someone you know) a resident of King County and in need of assistance with childcare?
If so, check out King County Child Care Resources for more information on how to apply for assistance.
As the pandemic nears an end (or becomes manageable for most), many parents are asked to return to their physical offices or enter new roles requiring in-person presence. Oftentimes, Black families are impacted by these changes at a higher rate, and this is no different, with one of the biggest issues being the cost and availability of quality childcare.
A recent article from the Government Executive (2022) showed that the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, released on September 3rd, showed that 152,000 more women ages 20 and over joined the labor force, which includes all people who are either working or looking for work. But though White women, Latinas, and Asian women over the age of 20 all increased their participation in the labor force from July to August, Black women decreased their participation by 45,000, meaning more Black women this month are not working and are not looking for work. Black women were the only group to have their unemployment rate increase and their labor force participation decrease in August. Reports examining the effects of the pandemic on workers have also found that women of color, particularly Black women, have faced a disproportionate level of stress and wage gaps that have prompted them to leave their jobs.
Black women also saw a sizable increase in labor force participation between the months of April and May, but it has declined each month since. It’s unclear what may be driving the drops in participation, though the struggling child care industry could be a contributing factor. Throughout the pandemic, many women have also been forced to leave work due to a lack of childcare options.
Through King County's Revive and Thrive Recovery Plan, the Childcare Grant Program provided $7 million in grants directly to providers for qualified families that lived or worked in King County. The Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) provided emergency childcare vouchers that allowed families to access the high-quality care of their choice and included informal caregivers. This investment has served essential workers, as well as families struggling to access childcare that has been impacted by COVID-19.
This childcare subsidy program prioritized low-income families who do not already qualify for other childcare subsidies such as Working Connections. $1 million is committed to families living in rural communities, and approximately $500,000 went to funding 240 informal child care providers, such as family, friends, or neighbors who care for children, in the form of a one-time $1,500 grant.
The subsidy program received applications from over 1,400 families. Over 500 families received subsidies, which provided childcare for nearly 800 children. To date, a total of 546 families and 799 children have received subsidies, which is a commitment to subsidize over $5 million in childcare payments through the end of the program. For rural communities, 90 families and 124 children have received subsidies, with a commitment to subsidizing another $800,000 by the end of June. To expend the rest of the rural funds, the program plans to continue to outreach and provide subsidies to families living in rural zip codes until the end of October 2022.
What's left for those still needing help?
Funding is still available through the King County Child Care Financial Assistance Program. Applications are open and will remain open until funding is no longer available. All families who qualified are encouraged to apply. To apply, visit King County Child Care Resources or call 1-800-446-1114.
The Government Executive (C.Norwood, September 7, 2022)