Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) is a federally and state-funded program that provides child care subsidies to families with an income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level—$43,440 for a family of three. The state pays part of the cost of child care when a parent is employed, self-employed, or in approved work or education activities, except in certain circumstances. The family is responsible for making a co-payment to the child care provider based on the family's countable income.
The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) administers WCCC. DCYF rule requires unemployment compensation to be counted as income when determining eligibility and co-payment.
During COVID-19, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), originally under the CARES Act, provided an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits for weeks ending on or before July 31, 2020. The Federal Lost Wages Assistance Program (LWA) provided an additional $300 under the President's memoranda while federal funding was available. Washington State was approved for LWA for the week ending August 1st through September 5th. The Federal Continued Assistance Act provides $300 in FPUC for weeks beginning after December 26, 2020 and ending on or before March 14, 2021.
For WCCC, DCYF must not count any of the following when determining a consumer's income eligibility and co-payment:
If any part of this act is found to be in conflict with federal requirements that are a condition for federal funding, the conflicting part of the act is inoperative solely to the extent of the conflict and with respect to the agencies directly affected. Rules adopted under this act must meet federal requirements that are a necessary condition to the receipt of federal funds.
PRO: Some families were cut off from accessing child care subsidies because they received one-time and short-term assistance during the pandemic. This makes it difficult for families, who are already struggling, to get back to work. The pandemic has worsened the child care crisis in this state and is causing a barrier to economic recovery. Parents are turning down jobs and are having difficulty reporting for employment because of child care issues. Data shows that fewer women, especially women of color, are in the workforce, and they are disproportionately losing their jobs and increasing their caregiving responsibilities. Essential workers and low-wage workers need child care, and child care can be as expensive as a second mortgage. Maintaining access to child care subsidies also provides continuity of care for children, which matters for healthy child development.