Cost of Quality Child Care Report

As its final directive from the Washington State Legislature, the Child Care Collaborative Task Force will study the true cost of high-quality child care and report its findings to the Governor and the Legislature by November 1, 2022. A cost of quality care study is underway with the expertise and experience of providers at the center. At the conclusion of the study, Washington will have a dynamic cost estimation model to inform future child care financing policy, including child care subsidy rate setting by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

A workgroup with more than 25 providers from diverse programmatic settings all across Washington State are helping to design and implement the study and to make sure that the quantitative information collected through the survey matches the lived experiences of providers. The Child Care Collaborative Task Force is committed to offering multiple and varied opportunities for child care providers to stay up to date and engaged with the study process so that the cost estimation model is embraced as a community-informed tool.

Ultimately the Child Care Collaborative Task Force will make recommendations to the Legislature for how the model can be leveraged to ensure accessible, affordable child care for all Washington families.

2022 Timeline of Activities

  • January—February: Provider outreach and engagement to inform plans for the Cost of Quality Care study (survey, interviews, focus groups).
  • March—April:
    • Adhoc provider workgroup launches with diverse representation by 25 leaders from across the state.
    • Cost of Quality Care online survey launches in English, Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian, Amharic, and Arabic.
    • 1:1 interviews and focus groups begin.
  • May—June: Early analysis of participation in survey, interviews, and focus groups and community collaboration on final outreach.
  • July—September:
    • Cost estimation model and corresponding technical manual is completed.
    • Building on recommendations from previous years, C3TF uses the cost estimation model to draft recommendations to the legislature.
  • November: C3TF recommendations submitted to the Governor and to the Legislature.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can licensed child care providers participate in the Cost of Quality Child Care Study?

  • Participate in the provider survey, interviews, and/or family child care focus groups. The most impactful way to influence the outcome of the cost of quality care study is through participation in provider surveys, interviews, and focus groups happening March through May. Licensed providers will receive online surveys through more than one source, such as DCYF, Child Care Aware, and/or other provider groups.
  • Child Care Collaborative Task Force: After the cost of quality care study is complete and the cost estimation model is finalized, the Child Care Collaborative Task Force will make recommendations to the legislature. Task Force members are responsible for representing the interests of their constituencies and the public is welcome to participate in virtual meetings.
  • Cost of Quality Care Study Workgroup: A workgroup with more than 25 providers from diverse programmatic settings all across Washington State are helping to design and implement the study and to make sure that the quantitative information collected through the survey matches the lived experiences of providers.
  • Stakeholder communication and engagement: Prenatal to Five Fiscal Strategies, the experts conducting the cost study, are eager to connect directly with provider groups across the state to answer questions about the study and to seek input from the field. Please contact info@prenatal5fiscal.org to schedule a briefing and discussion.

What decisions need to be made to complete the Cost of Quality Care Study and who will make them?

The cost of quality care study relies heavily on collecting data, information, and experiences from providers to identify both the current costs of providing child care and the estimated costs of meeting higher quality, not tied to what families can afford to pay or what can be reimbursed from public funds. This data will inform the development of a cost estimation model. Lawmakers will be able to use the cost estimation model to consider different approaches to funding child care. As the representative body making recommendations to the legislature based on the cost study report and the cost estimation model, the Child Care Collaborative Task Force will provide guidance throughout the study process. The Cost of Quality Care Study Workgroup, with more than 25 child care providers from across the state, will also advise implementation of the study.

What comes after the Cost of Quality Child Care Study?

The Child Care Collaborative Task Force will study the true cost of high-quality child care and report its findings to the Governor and the Legislature by November 1, 2022. The Task Force has been studying and making recommendations to improve access to affordable child care since 2018 and is well positioned to synthesize important results from the study. Meetings of the Child Care Collaborative Task Force are open to the public and the Department of Commerce welcomes your participation. Join in to hear the latest on the Cost of Quality Care Study and to help inform the Task Force’s report and recommendations.

What is rate setting and how might the Cost of Quality Care Study impact Working Connections Child Care?

Rate setting is led by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and determines how much providers will be paid by the state for serving children enrolled in Working Connections Child Care. Currently, the state relies on a market rate survey to set rates. The Fair Start for Kids Act requires DCYF to use the cost of quality care rate model to identify a more accurate payment model for providers accepting Working Connections Child Care.

About the Child Care Collaborative Task Force

The Child Care Collaborative Task Force (C3TF) was created by the Washington State Legislature in 2018 (SHB 2367) to develop policy recommendations to incentivize employer-supported child care and improve child care access and affordability for employees. Legislation passed in 2019 (2SHB 1344) extended the task force and expanded its scope of work, which will culminate in a June 2021 implementation plan to achieve accessible, affordable child care for all Washington families by 2025. As its final directive from the Washington State Legislature, the Child Care Collaborative Task Force will study the true cost of high-quality child care and report its findings to the Governor and the Legislature by November 1, 2022.

Related Law

  • 2SSB 5092, Section 129 (subsection 127) on page 72

Visit the Child Care Collaborative Task Force page to learn more.

Help us get the word out so child care providers know about the cost of quality care study and recommendations! The Department of Commerce will provide timely newsletter and social media content in hopes that it will be circulated within provider networks. View the latest content and share it far and wide.

Download the study background and overview for additional information about the cost of quality care study and recommendations process.

Public Meetings

You’re invited! Meetings of the Child Care Collaborative Task Force are open to the public and the Department of Commerce welcomes your participation. Join in to hear the latest on the Cost of Quality Care Study and to help inform the Task Force’s report and recommendations.

Upcoming Meetings

  • Friday, May 6 from 9:00am to 12:00pm
    (May 6th Meeting Materials)
  • Monday, July 11 from 9:00am to 12:00pm
  • Wednesday, August 10 from 9:00am to 12:00pm
  • Thursday, September 15 from 9:00am to 12:00pm

Contact

Cheryl Smith
Community Engagement and Outreach Director
Email: Cheryl.Smith@Commerce.wa.gov
Phone: 360-725-2808

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