When the pandemic began the longer-term issues facing families and the childcare industry were laid bare. Many member organizations of the Spokane Alliance represent front-line workers who were continuing to work through the early shut downs. Their lack of access to affordable childcare created crises for families and in our public services.
In the summer of 2020 the Child Care Team jumped into action quickly to ensure that some of Spokane County's CARES Funds went to supporting families' access to child care and stabilizing child care centers. After a few weeks of concerted pressure the Spokane County Commissioners voted to allocated $3M for subsidies for families who were struggling to afford child care and to direct assistance to child care centers so that they could continue to stay open during the economic crisis created by the pandemic.
In the spring of 2021, we hosted House Meetings in 13 different member organizations to listen to the pressures that our members face with child care. The top issues we heard about were:
- Women in the workforce bearing more of the burden of childcare
- The cost of childcare is too high for families to pay
- A lack of quality or culturally appropriate childcare
- Waitlists and low accessibility
- No Extended hours or overnight care available
- Poor compensation for child care teachers
- Parents turning down work opportunities, raises, or promotions and missing work due to childcare issues
- Mental health challenges for children and for staff in childcare settings
The Child Care Team joined forces with the Mental Health Care Team to focus on mental health for children. Our current focus is encourage the City and the County to allocate support from their ARPA funds for families' and childcare centers' current needs. Working with our partner Community Minded Enterprises we are prioritizing: subsidies for families, direct assistance to child care centers to support and stabilize their workforce, and a mental health consultant to provide expertise to staff and teachers working with children with mental health challenges.
Visit our calendar to find the next meeting time of the Child Care Research Action Team.