October 5, 2020

Working Connections Childcare Expanded

In Spokane, the average cost of childcare for a preschool age child is $7,800 annually per child, more than many families can afford.  Many children are left at home with no supervision because parents need to work and cannot afford childcare.

For many years, Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), Head Start and many other child and family advocacy groups have been working with the Washington Legislature to expand eligibility for Working Connections Childcare Subsidy (WCCS). The WCCS is a resource that families in Washington can use to help pay for childcare.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Families eligible for WCCS are at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) – the latest levels are linked here. Eligibility for Working Connections has recently been expanded, allowing more families to access this vitally needed program.

Single parents enrolled full time in an accredited vocational program no longer have to be working during their schooling. Additionally, students may now be enrolled in school virtually and still receive assistance. Having a safe and healthy place for children is imperative to a parent’s success.

The second victory for Washington families is the extension of the homeless family grace period. Families that are homeless now qualify for WCCS for 12 months automatically rather than the 4 months previously allowed. Data and experiences have shown that it takes 1-2 years for families that are homeless to stabilize housing, employment and health. This 12-month guarantee allows families to focus on their own stabilization while their children are gaining important skills.

Last, families with parents under the age of 21 may now be eligible for full time childcare if they are enrolled in high school or GED programs for 110 hours per month. This is in effort to support young parents finishing their high school education which has been shown to increase lifetime income for individuals and families.

By: Liz Backstrom

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