Media Contact: Allie Wright, [email protected], (515) 537-6547
Seattle, Wash. (June 21, 2017) – Despite two special legislative sessions, Washington state lawmakers have not reached agreement on a state budget, risking a government shutdown and negatively impacting the lives of its youngest residents.
The second special session ends today.
If Washington legislators don’t finish budget negotiations before July 1, approximately 30,000 young children will lose their child care subsidies and approximately 500 children will lose access to summer preschool programs.
“I understand the current political landscape in Washington and the hope to pass a balanced budget while funding state priorities,” said Mark Shriver, president of Save the Children Action Network (SCAN). “However, it is unacceptable for children to lose out on critical early learning opportunities due to political partisanship. Investments in early learning programs are vital to children, families and communities and provide a better future for us all.”
By age five, a child’s brain is almost completely developed – yet too many kids in Washington do not have access to high-quality preschool or child care. Many never catch up. Without adequate funding, the impact on children and families will be devastating.
In addition to the immediate solution to the budget impasse, legislators need to pass funding to keep essential early childhood education and care programs running for another two years.
“I urge lawmakers to include the House’s funding levels for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) in its final budget and increase the state’s investment in Working Connections Child Care (WCCC),” said Shriver.
Neither the House nor Senate proposals adequately fund WCCC, which provides working parents with child care subsidies so parents can maintain employment while their children access high-quality early learning and care. The House budget invests more than the Senate budget in WCCC, with a $20 million increase. However, it’s estimated that a $40 million increase is needed. Without this investment, child care centers may be forced to stop accepting families who pay with WCCC subsidies, or to close their doors entirely.
Save the Children Action Network is the political voice for kids. We believe that every child deserves the best start in life. That’s why we’re building bipartisan will and voter support to make sure every child in the U.S. has access to high-quality early learning and that no mother or child around the globe dies from a preventable disease or illness. By investing in kids and holding leaders accountable, we are helping kids from birth to age five survive and thrive. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.