Important Work Support in Jeopardy
The Governor’s budget proposals would make it more difficult for lower income parents to be employed. Both of her proposals would result in significant cuts to Working Connections Child Care (WCCC), a program that helps lower income working families pay for child care. The Governor’s first budget proposal (“Book 1”) proposed an $89 million reduction in WCCC. A cut of that size would affect an estimated 17,000 families by the end of June 2011. Her “Book 2” proposal would also make significant cuts—$49 million.
Without work supports such as WCCC, maintaining employment can be difficult if not impossible. According to the state Department of Early Learning, the average cost of a child care center for two children is about $1,177 per month.* As shown in the graph below, that is over half of the total monthly income for a family earning $24,000 per year.
To make matters worse, the cuts also come at a time when finding and maintaining employment is especially difficult. In 2009, the unemployment rate for single parents averaged 10.4 percent, compared to 6.2 percent just two years earlier (see the graph below). (The unemployment rate is the share of the labor force that is looking for, but unable to find, work.)
By making it more difficult for families to remain employed, cuts to Working Connections Child Care violate the value Washingtonians place on work. Preserving this important work support is yet another reason consideration should be given to strategies to increase state revenue.
* Assuming one toddler and one school-age child.
Thanks to Karen Tvedt, Lauren Platt, and Lori Pfingst.