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Lawmaker blames state agency for no hearing on his child care provider bill

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(The Center Square) – A lawmaker blames the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, & Families and the chair of the House Human Services, Youth, & Early Learning Committee for refusing to schedule a public hearing on House Bill 2300 to provide a temporary reprieve from certain certification and training requirements for child care providers.

“Regulatory burdens and education mandates are forcing people out of business and creating childcare deserts across the state,” Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, told The Center Square,

“I’m a fan of early learning, and you have early learning in these childcare centers, and they get subsidies for teaching and to provide an early learning program,” he added.

Dent blames DCYF for implementing regulations on childcare centers that require more education for providers – that is, staff are required to take “costly and burdensome classes that often result in people quitting.”

“These are 2, 3, 4, and 5-year-olds and they’re not at the point of studying to be doctors or lawyers, right?”

He added, “We’re teaching them some basic stuff, but their teachers have been put under a bigger regulatory load, and I’ve been pushing back ever since because many of these childcare providers don’t need to go to college, they don’t need a teaching certificate.”

In a request for comment from Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, who chairs the committee where the bill would receive a public hearing, The Center Square received the following: “There have been many successful efforts in recent years to expand opportunities to take part in professional development pathways.

HB 2556 in 2020 granted 5 years for all child care employees to complete the required education requirements for their position. Additionally, this legislation established a community-based pathway for providers to meet those education requirements. There are pathways to supports providers in meeting the staff qualifications requirements. DCYF has been implementing community-based options for a number of years, and we have seen success in providers making progress and completing the requirements. DCYF is still analyzing HB 2300 and has not commented on the bill’s impact to date.”

According to Dent, the average family with kids spends more than 35% of their income to send two children to childcare.

A child care task force report presented to the Legislature in December highlighted other problems in the industry, describing the state’s child care market as “broken.”

The report concluded parents of an infant pay on average about $14,500 per year — the ninth highest cost among the states.

“This bill is not a fix, but will help our state’s childcare crisis,” Dent said. “The committee needs to take action on this bill. If we don’t get a hearing, nobody is going to know what is really going on… Having a public hearing is the most effective so we can hear from the people who are dealing with this. We need this now.”

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