Jun 14, 2022 - News

Bonus payments coming to King County child care workers

Illustration of alphabet blocks with dollar signs instead of letters.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

An estimated 9,000 child care workers in King County will soon receive one-time bonus checks paid for by the city and county government.

Why it matters: Low pay is one factor contributing to a shortage of child care workers, without whom child care centers couldn't operate and many working parents wouldn't be able to earn a living.

By the numbers: According to a recent analysis from University of California, Berkeley and a nonprofit think tank, early childhood educators with bachelor's degrees in Washington earn about 21% less than their counterparts who teach elementary and middle school.

  • Early childhood educators are also twice as likely as other Washington workers to be living in poverty, according to the report.

What's happening: Local child care providers in King County can now apply for grants so their workers can get one-time bonus checks.

  • The city and county plan to give payments to all eligible workers whose employers apply.
  • The total of the bonus check will depend on the number of applicants, but county officials estimate it will be somewhere between $600 and $900 per worker.
  • The application window runs through June 27.

The bottom line: All told, $7.4 million in checks will be paid to King County child care workers.

  • $5 million will come from King County's voter-approved Best Start for Kids Levy, while $2.4 million will be paid for using a portion of the revenue from Seattle's JumpStart payroll tax.

What they’re saying: Susan Brown, president and CEO of Kids Co., a child care provider with 15 locations, spoke Monday about the "challenge of finding people to do this work."

  • “Some of you might be thinking, well, every sector is struggling to find staff,” Brown said at a press conference. “But here’s the difference — childcare is the bedrock of our economy. Every sector, whether it be business, government, education or healthcare — every individual is linked to and depends on childcare in one way or another.”
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