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DEEL Awards Nearly $3M to Child Care Workers in Appreciation of Their Service

DEEL Awards Nearly $3M to Child Care Workers in Appreciation of Their Service to Seattle Families Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

City will provide over 3,500 Workers up to $835 By New Year’s Holiday

SEATTLE (December 7) – Building on a series of investments to support child care providers throughout the pandemic, Dr. Dwane Chappelle, Director of the Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL), joined members of the Seattle City Council, child care workers and education partners to announce $2.9 million in Child Care Recognition Payments as part of the Seattle Rescue Plan. Over 3,500 workers will receive a one-time payment in appreciation of their important service provided to Seattle children and families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Workers at 537 programs serving approximately 20,000 children citywide will receive payments. Sixty-nine percent of payment recipients, which include both center-based and Family Child Care providers, identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. Fifty-nine percent of the programs are located in historically under-resourced neighborhoods in southeast and southwest Seattle.

“Child care workers are among our city’s frontline heroes that have kept families moving throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. When school shifted online and vaccines were not yet available, workers kept their doors open to children so parents could work,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “Child care workers, many of whom are Women of Color, have served, and continue to serve, on the frontlines of the pandemic to provide safe learning environments and support when families and children needed it most. I am grateful for their tremendous dedication during the COVID-19 crisis. It is crucial that Seattle continue prioritizing direct support to child care workers as part of our City’s response to the pandemic.”

DEEL partnered with Child Care Resources (CCR) to manage the application process and distribute funds to provider-applicants, who are then responsible for distributing funds to workers. Funds allocation was based on the total number of employees represented through eligible programs that applied, including both center- and home-based providers who operate within the boundaries of Seattle. Programs eligible for funding are licensed by the Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), are currently open, accepting children, and enrolled at least one child since March 2021. In-language applications and phone assistance in several languages, including English, Amharic, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese were available for applicants.

”Long before the pandemic, Seattle child care workers have provided essential care and safe learning environments to our city’s children, and they deserve so much more than this one-time payment. At DEEL, we’re working toward a day where Seattle child care workers are paid equitable wages and all families can easily access affordable, high-quality care,” said Dr. Dwane Chappelle, Director of DEEL. “I’m thankful to our partners at Child Care Resources for their excellent work on this opportunity, and most of all – I'm grateful to our city’s child care workers who continue to provide outstanding care and support for our children, especially in times of hardship and crisis.”

In February 2021, DEEL invested $2.3M in child care stabilization grants to provide pandemic relief to over 500 licensed providers and Family, Friend and Neighbor (FFN) caregivers. In 2022, DEEL will expand Child Care Stabilization Grants to $2.4M to address the financial burdens that persist for providers and their employees as the COVID-19 crisis continues. Also, beginning in early next year, as part of DEEL’s long-term strategy to advance wage equity, DEEL will partner with King County and the State of Washington to conduct an aligned cost-of-care study to assess the true costs of child care in Seattle. The analysis will evaluate local child care operational costs and develop a cost model to guide subsidy levels and funding levels that incorporates adequate compensation to providers to cover living wages for staff and the delivery of quality child care.

“Reliable access to childcare is critical, as made abundantly clear during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every level of government – federal, state, and local – has stepped up to provide much needed stabilization for workers and families. Here at the City, we’ve created bonuses for childcare workers, stabilization grants for providers, and funds to help facilities for home-based and center-based childcare which will expand the availability of childcare across Seattle,” said Council President Lorena González, Position 9 (Citywide). “It is my hope that workers, providers, and families continue to receive the support needed to build a robust childcare system as we grapple with this pandemic.”

“For too long, child care workers have been unsung heroes serving on the frontlines of our pandemic to ensure our city’s kiddos are cared for and safe, and that working families can continue to balance work and childcare. Despite being in one of our state’s most unpaid professions, child care workers continue to show up for our community when we need it most,” said Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda, Position 8 (Citywide). “That’s why I was proud to ensure their dedication would be recognized with a critical $3 million investment in the Seattle Rescue Plan. Thank you to all those who serve and to our community partners who have made these payments possible.”

The Greater Seattle Child Care Business Coalition (GSSCBC), in collaboration with the Economic Opportunity Institute, was instrumental in the development of this opportunity advocating on behalf of child care workers. GSSCBC is a city-wide group comprised of business owners and directors who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. GSSCBC supports business needs of child care programs by creating opportunities for providers to learn from with experts on employment law, grants management and social emotional supports. Their advocacy efforts center on strengthening the child care sector by seeking greater investments from government and business.

“When the pandemic caused panic and utter confusion, the creation of the GSCCBC provided a virtual master class for childcare professionals,” said Angelia Hicks-Maxie, CEO of Tiny Tots Development Center. “Within weeks, we were able to create policies, procedures and best practices to survive the COVID-19 crisis. While the school districts were closed, we remained open.”

“Child care for kids’ birth to 12 years old deserves much greater investment from government and business for the public good that child care is,” said Susan Brown, President and CEO of Kids Co. “We look forward to continuing our work with the City of Seattle’s Department of Education and Early Learning leadership and staff to strengthen and fund the child care sector in our city.”

The Child Care Recognition Payment is one of several DEEL efforts that have supported providers throughout the pandemic, ensuring families had continued access to care. Weeks after the pandemic caused widespread closures, DEEL launched an emergency child care program for children of essential workers, followed by an expansion of the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) that increased co-pays to 50-100% of families’ child care costs. As the pandemic evolved, DEEL connected providers with COVID-19 public health guidance, facilitated ongoing professional development, and distributed over 44,000 pieces of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies citywide to support workers with information and resources needed minimize the risk of COVID-19.

The City of Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning’s mission is to transform the lives of Seattle children, youth, and families through strategic investments in education. www.seattle.gov/education