HB 1344

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

As Reported by House Committee On:

Human Services & Early Learning

Title: An act relating to establishing the Washington child care access now act.

Brief Description: Concerning child care access.

Sponsors: Representatives Reeves, Ryu, Sells, Valdez, Goodman, Robinson, Shewmake, Stonier, Macri, Kilduff, Leavitt and Pollet.

Brief History:

Committee Activity:

Human Services & Early Learning: 1/30/19, 2/8/19 [DPS].

Brief Summary of Substitute Bill

  • Directs the Department of Commerce to contract for a regional assessment of the child care industry to be completed by July 1, 2020.

  • Modifies the duties, membership, and term of the Child Care Collaborative Task Force (CCCTF).

  • Requires the Department of Children, Youth, and Families to use the child care cost estimate model developed by the CCCTF to determine child care subsidy rates by January 1, 2025.


Majority Report: The substitute bill be substituted therefor and the substitute bill do pass. Signed by 10 members: Representatives Senn, Chair; Callan, Vice Chair; Frame, Vice Chair; Dent, Ranking Minority Member; Eslick, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Corry, Goodman, Kilduff, Lovick and Ortiz-Self.

Minority Report: Do not pass. Signed by 2 members: Representatives McCaslin, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Klippert.

Staff: Dawn Eychaner (786-7135).


Department of Commerce.

The Department of Commerce (COM) administers programs intended to promote community and economic development, including providing businesses with assistance in various areas such as export, siting, expansion, and infrastructure. The COM also administers the Child Care Collaborative Task Force (CCCTF). The CCCTF is tasked with examining the effects of child care affordability and accessibility on the workforce and on businesses. The CCCTF must report recommendations regarding incentivizing employer-supported child care and improving child care access and affordability to the Governor and the Legislature by November 1, 2019, and expires on December 30, 2019.

Child Care Workforce Development Technical Work Group.

The 2017-19 Operating Budget required the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to convene a Child Care Workforce Development Technical Work Group (Technical Work Group) to develop recommendations to support increased child care workforce wages, reduce turnover, enable child care providers to recruit more qualified educators, and maintain the diversity of the current workforce. The Technical Work Group's report with recommendations and an implementation plan was due to the Governor and the Legislature by December 1, 2018.

Working Connections Child Care.

To be eligible for subsidized child care through the Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) program, an applicant must have a household income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) and be engaged in approved work activities unless the family has received child welfare, child protective, or family assessment response services in the previous six months. Historically, the average monthly caseload of the WCCC program has been capped in the state operating budget at 33,000 households, and certain populations have been identified for priority in the event of a waitlist.


Summary of Substitute Bill:

Child Care Industry Assessment.

The COM must solicit one or more third parties to conduct a regional assessment of the child care industry in partnership with a statewide organization representing parents. The goal of the assessment is to better understand issues affecting child care access and affordability for families. The assessment must be submitted to the Governor, the Legislature, and the CCCTF by July 1, 2020, and must:

Child Care Collaborative Task Force.

The CCCTF must be jointly convened by the COM and the DCYF. The CCCTF membership is expanded to include a private school provider representing the Washington Federation of Independent Schools, a representative of a statewide grassroots advocacy organization representing the interests of parents, a representative from the Technical Work Group, an early learning policy expert, a representative of a nonprofit public policy center focused on economic opportunity, and a representative of an organization of early learning providers focused on preserving languages and culture by serving immigrant and refugee communities. Licensed family home and child care center providers serving on the CCCTF must be reimbursed for the cost of hiring a substitute for times the provider is away from the child care business for official task force travel and meetings.

The expiration date of the CCCTF is extended to July 1, 2021. Members serving on the CCCTF as of January 1, 2019, may continue to serve without reappointment.

Child Care Collaborative Task Force Duties.

The CCCTF must:

The CCCTF must submit its findings and required implementation plan to the Governor and the Legislature by July 1, 2020.

Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

By January 1, 2025, the DCYF must use the child care cost model developed by the CCCTF to determine child care subsidy rates.

Substitute Bill Compared to Original Bill:

The substitute bill:


Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Requested on January 23, 2019.

Effective Date of Substitute Bill: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.

Staff Summary of Public Testimony:

(In support) There are approximately 500,000 children from birth to age 5 in the state, but where those kids are cared for is a question. Child care is in a crisis, especially in rural Washington. The cost of child care is more expensive than university tuition. The child care problem is starting to affect business retention and expansion efforts. Child care centers are talking about closing their doors because they cannot continue to pay staff based on current subsidy rates. Teachers can literally go across the street and make more money at a coffee shop. Centers are losing money by accepting the subsidy and have to cap the number of subsidy kids they accept due to budget reasons. Education requirements for providers are a concern. Experience is so important, as is education, and a degree doesn't mean a provider earns more money. Family child care provides 33 percent of the nontraditional child care hours. The Early Achievers program is wonderful, but teacher pay is not equivalent to the pay of K-12 teachers. Research findings show the first years of life are critical for brain development, and supporting kids in the earliest years helps them be ready for kindergarten. High quality care is more challenging than ever for families to access, and attracting an early learning workforce is the key to quality care. Money spent on early learning returns an investment even greater than K-12 investments. More child care providers who can provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services are needed. The benefits cliff is real, and parents cannot afford care. Teachers are currently compensated at less than median wage, and compensation for subsidy providers is far below national standards. The early childhood education career and wage ladder have been forgotten, and budget increases should raise provider salaries. The child care market supports providers of color, immigrants, and women. In 2005 there were 8,000 licensed family home providers in Washington, and 6,000 of those cared for kids on subsidy. Now there are 1,897 providers serving subsidy kids and 50 percent fewer licensed family home providers. This is a professional workforce largely made up of women and deserves to be treated with respect. This is not just a business concern, but an equity concern. Washington ranks as the sixth worst state in the country as a child care desert, and this is unconscionable for the number one economy in the country.

(Opposed) None.

Persons Testifying: Representative Reeves, prime sponsor; Dru Garson, Grays Harbor Economic Development Council; Stephanie Smith, Learning to Grow Childcare Center Owner; Edward Hamilton, Washington Childcare Centers Association; Carrie Beirman, Connie Largen, Mary Curry, and Karen Hart, Service Employees International Union 925; Dow Constantine, King County Executive Office; Kelly Blucher; Lauren Hipp, Moms Rising; John Burbank, Economic Opportunity Institute; and Sarah Brady, Child Care Resources; and Allison Krutsinger, Children's Alliance.

Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying: None.