King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced today a one-time retention bonus payment to child care workers across the County. A total of $7.4 million in joint funding will be available for eligible providers. These one-time payments are made possible with combined funding from the Best Starts for Kids levy and JumpStart Payroll Expense Tax, and are estimated to reach more than 9,000 child care workers across the county.
Child care workers are among the lowest wage workers in the state, making nine dollars less hourly than median workers, and have faced a high risk of COVID-19 exposure in their field throughout the pandemic. Providers in this essential sector lost revenue, saw staffing shortages, and face an inability to hire and retain staff during the last two years. This wage boost well help balance the important role child care workers play, and the communities they support.
“For a workforce that is predominantly women and people of color, wages have remained consistently lower than in virtually any other sector, and haven’t kept up with either growing responsibilities or the cost of living in this region,” said Executive Constantine. “These retention payments help address the strain the pandemic has placed on this essential workforce, and I’m pleased to have the partnership of Mayor Harrell and the City of Seattle in this funding. We continue to look for new ways to support the needs of child care providers, ensuring children in King County are able to access high quality, affordable early learning and child care opportunities, and that the providers themselves have the support they need to serve in this essential role.”
“Seattle’s child care providers have been heroes of the community, especially during the last two years. In One Seattle, we know every kid deserves the care and support that will put them on a path to success, and we know child care providers are essential to that mission,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “As we seek to create a sustainable child care ecosystem and a healthy regional economy, we are proud to partner with King County to offer child care worker retention payments and stabilization grants for Seattle providers to help them in their continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”