By Janice Deguchi
For Northwest Asian Weekly
Arnold and Ling Huan Lui are bakers with twins that are enrolled in Denise Louie Education Center’s full day child care program. Washington State’s Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) subsidy helps them afford full day care for their girls by paying a portion of the cost of care. “Basically, my wife’s income goes to insurance and childcare. Because of the WCCC, we don’t have to rely on other government assistance,” said Lui.
Governor Gregoire is proposing cuts to the WCCC subsidy that would kick families like the Luis off the program.
Working Connections Child Care makes it possible for low-income families to climb out of poverty and find jobs. It helps moderate-income families maintain stable employment. Working parents contribute to the economy in the form of taxes, and like the Luis, have to rely less on other public services.
There are more than 60,000 children from over 36,000 households enrolled in WCCC statewide. The loss of child care for these workers will become a major disruption. Individuals may not be able to show up for work if they are unable to make proper child care arrangements. Those that do will be distracted by the stress.
For several years now, taxpayers and philanthropists have invested in quality improvements for the early learning system statewide. It has been widely recognized that early learning investments pay off. If fewer children have access to these investments, children will be less prepared for kindergarten.
While our state is facing economic hardship, so are its working families. Children’s need for quality learning opportunities continues in spite of the state budget crisis. By restoring and improving the WCCC program, we can ensure that working families like the Luis can continue to work, pay taxes, stay off government assistance, and prepare their children for success in school and life. By supporting working families and preparing children for school, we are making a lasting investment that will continue to pay dividends well beyond this budget cycle. ♦
Janice Deguchi is the executive director of the Denise Louis Education Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.