King County's commitment to child care
Whether you’re a family or provider seeking child care supports, we have resources and options.
We recognize that for our communities to thrive, all families need access to care, and all child care providers deserve thriving wages. This programming has the potential to impact long -term change for communities and the child care field. So we try to ensure King County does this work in a way that is accessible, supportive, and centered in child care provider and family voices.
Funding opportunities and resources for providers
Best Starts for Kids Workforce Demonstration Project
The workforce of child care providers in King County is more diverse than the general population, and the field relies heavily on the work of BIPOC women in particular. The care they provide is critical: child care is an important protective factor for young kids, it helps families stay in the workforce, and it supports our communities in thriving. But child care providers are among the lowest wage workers in the state. The Best Starts Child Care Workforce Demonstration Pilot Project will provide a salary supplement to 1,400 workers employed by licensed child care sites across King County. Funding will be available to providers for as long as they are employed at the same site, or the length of the levy. The pilot project will allow us to provide critical financial support while studying the connection between increased wages and retention and continuity of care.
Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account (PSTAA) Early Learning Facilities
Subsidies and resources for families
Best Starts for Kids Child Care Subsidy
Best Starts has dedicated $20 million per year ($160 million total) to reach families who are ineligible for other child care subsidy support. Families can complete an application here, and will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Completing an application does not guarantee that a family will be awarded subsidy.
Veteran Student Child Care Subsidy
This is designed to help veterans pursue higher education and training programs with the support of a child care subsidy. It provides deep subsidy and scaled supports for families up to 100 percent Area Median Income (AMI) in licensed and informal care.
COVID-19 Emergency Funds
During the height of the pandemic, King County launched three emergency child care programs funded primarily through national relief funds (CARES and ARPA) and supported in part by local dollars. These programs have provided subsidies to families struggling to afford care, grants to providers and informal caregivers, and guaranteed slots for essential workers.
Supports for informal caregivers
Kaleidoscope Play and Learn, designed by Child Care Resources, is a promising practice program for informal caregivers, families, and communities to brings families together to learn about early learning and healthy development while singing, reading, and playing together. In addition, KPL brings caregivers together to build social connections and promote co-learning.
BrightSpark Early Learning Services can connect caregivers and families to a group in their community.
One-Time Retention Payments for Child Care Workers
Through our voter-approved Best Starts for Kids Initiative, King County is ramping up resources for the child care workforce. Child care workers are an essential workforce, so we partnered with the City of Seattle to distribute one-time retention payments to 12,000 child care workers in 2022. Read more on our blog!
The Imagine Institute provides a broad range of supports, trainings, and resources to early learning educators including a substitute pool, higher education, and trainings.
Child Care Health Program
Health promotion and disease prevention information for child care providers in King County and Seattle.
Best Starts for Kids Child Care Health Consultation Projects
Child care providers including family, friend, and neighbor caregivers seeking support on health, safety, nutrition, child development, and challenging behaviors can seek Child Care Health Consultation by reaching out to these consultation teams.