“The Impact” – Oct. 9, 2019
The state’s efforts to close an achievement gap with quality Pre-K education means new regulations for child care providers. The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families is overseeing a regulatory reset for the daycare industry. There are new educational requirements and a five year window for caregivers to complete them. “What we’re really trying to do is get a simpler set of rules so that people can read them and follow them,” said Ross Hunter, Secretary of the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families.
“When you show up with a 5 year old for kindergarten you expect your teacher to have a bachelor’s degree which is a lot more than 20 credit hours,” said Hunter. “Three and four-year- old’s actually are more sponge-like than five-year-old’s. The impact that educational provider has on them is much greater than later in their school career.”
The goal is to improve the quality of child care statewide, but some providers fear the changes will make it hard for them to stay in business. Washington is one of the least affordable states in the nation for child care, according to the non-profit Child Care Aware.
The rule change impacts centers and independent day care providers alike, but hits family home child care providers especially hard. Debbie Thurber, President of the Eastern Washington Family Child Care Association, says smaller home care providers will feel the brunt of the new requirements and those that can stay open will be forced to raise their prices.
“We feel that we are overwhelmed with the amount of new regulations that the state is putting upon us,” said Thurber. “Providers, who are seasoned providers, who have been doing this a long time, they’re overwhelmed with and they might be in their 60’s or even their 70’s and they’re like I have to go back to school? And they don’t know how they’re going to pay for that.”
Thurber is concerned that recruiting staff for child care will be extremely difficult.
“They’re going to come back and they’re going to have this degree and they’re going to work for minimum wage. So we’re kind of like why go to school and get that degree if you’re not going to be able to make any more money?” said Thurber.