(The Center Square) – Snohomish County has moved one step closer to addressing their so-called “child care deserts” by allocating $7.6 million in federal funding towards improving access to child care across the county.
According to the nonprofit Child Care Aware, roughly 80% of Snohomish County is in an “extreme child care desert,” with only 62 available child care seats for every 100 infants, toddlers,or preschoolers whose parents work.
This is significantly lower than the Washington state average of 79 seats per 100 infants.
“A major barrier to people joining or returning to the workforce is the lack of available and affordable child care. The effects of child care deserts across our county impact all of us, but they have an even more acute impact on women, who are pushed out of the job market at higher rates due to the extremely high cost of child care,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers in a statement accompanying the announcement.
This $7.6 million in funding was part of $12 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, and is a $2.6 million dollar increase over the $5 million originally slated for disbursement to nonprofits, as previously reported by The Center Square.
Those monies will fund nearly 360 new child care slots across the county, with five of the six funded projects located in extreme child care deserts.
That’s at a cost of slightly over $21,000 per seat for child care. These projections include several new facilities, upgrades to existing ones, and funding for staffing and training of staff as well.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who was involved in advocating for the funding on a federal level, also commented on the announcement.
“Today’s announcement by Executive Somers is going to make a real difference for so many kids and families in Snohomish County. This announcement shows what’s possible when we invest in our nation’s child care sector, and I am going to keep pushing in Congress until we fix the child care crisis once and for all,” said Murray.
The breakdown of the organizations funded is as follows;
$2 million: Volunteers of America Western Washington (VOAWW) – Lynnwood Neighborhood Center$2 million: Rise Up Academy – Academy Expansion Project$1 million: Housing Hope – Tomorrow’s Hope Child Development Center$1 million: Camp Fire Snohomish County – Camp Killoqua Child Care Center$1 million: Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County – Edmonds Club Child Care$656,000: Latino Educational Training Institute – Incubators for Families’ Success
Further details of the funding can be found on the Snohomish County website.