Best Starts Child Care Subsidy reaching more than 1,800 children

This was originally posted on the Best Starts for Kids blog.

Through partnership with community organizations, families, and child care providers, the Best Starts for Kids Child Care Subsidy is now reaching 1,800 children. This amounts to $2 million per month that Best Starts is distributing to help families cover the costs of child care. 

“I cried out of happiness when I was approved for the Best Starts for Kids Child Care Subsidy. Now I’m able to pay back debt and I don’t have to put groceries on the credit card. I am definitely not as stressed about money anymore.” said Brandi Basilius, who received the subsidy.

The subsidy, which first opened for applications in summer 2022 has now reached full enrollment. This means eligible families who now apply to the subsidy will be placed on a waitlist. 

This process highlights the deep need for additional child care supports – not just for families whose incomes are too high to qualify for other subsidies, but also for families who are ineligible due to immigration status and activity requirements. Many more families across King County are struggling to afford the cost of child care, which demonstrates the need for additional resources and supports through a combination of local, state, and federal investments. 

“Best Starts launched our child care investment in response to a resounding call from families and providers for additional support,” said Best Starts for Kids Child Care Policy Lead Jessica Tollenaar Cafferty. “This type of subsidy program is so deeply needed: we’ve now been able to reach more than 1,800 kids and their families, helping kids get the care they need and parents cover the costs without risking their financial stability. It’s a huge step forward as we continue to push toward our long-term vision, where all families have equitable access to care that meets their needs, and providers earn thriving wages. We will continue to engage our community to build momentum for child care and ensure the policies, supports, and systems we create are responsive to the needs of kids, families, and providers.” 

Available Resources 

The Best Starts for Kids Child Care Subsidy is a unique resource. It helps families who aren’t eligible for other subsides, like Washington State’s Working Connections Child Care program, pay for child care. But because it’s a subsidy that was designed to fill in gaps not met by other supports, families who only qualify for our subsidy might struggle to find other sources.  

We encourage families to review the resources page we’ve added to the Best Starts for Kids Subsidy website to see the available options. 

We are working diligently to accommodate as many families as possible.  

Families who want to apply for the subsidy can fill out a five-minute eligibility form. If they appear to be eligible, they will be placed on the waitlist.  

The time families may spend on the waitlist will vary, but we will provide eligible applicants regular updates on their waitlist status.  When a family is invited off the waitlist, they will be asked to complete a full application for the subsidy, including verification of household income and King County residency.

The Cost of Care 

As families across the country know, the cost of child care can be burdensome. In Washington, a two-parent family with two young children can spend more than 35 percent of their income on child care. In a single-parent household that cost-burden jumps to 150 percent of their income.   

At the same time, child care workers are among the lowest-wage workers in the state, making $9 less per hour than the median worker.  

This dynamic puts enormous pressure on the child care sector, which is largely staffed by women, particularly women of color, and it puts pressure on families, particularly lower income families.  

At Best Starts we’re working to do our part to support the essential infrastructure that is child care. Child care helps families’ well-being, careers, health, and social connection. It takes worry off families shoulders, stimulates children’s development, and provides benefits to our whole community.  

We will continue to deepen our work by identifying opportunities through the Best Starts Child Care Subsidy and building up the workforce with our soon-to-launch Child Care Workforce Demonstration Pilot Project, which will study the impact of increasing wages for a group of child care workers.