Commerce awards over $2 million to help address highest priority child care shortages

Ballmer Group and the Bezos Family Foundation co-fund state Child Care Partnership planning grants to 18 local organizations serving communities statewide

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced over $2 million in Child Care Partnership Grants to 18 local organizations for local planning and pre-design efforts that will expand child care capacity in communities across the state.  Funding for the first year of these two-year awards includes up to $430,000 from Ballmer Group, $300,000 from the Bezos Family Foundation and $350,000 from state general funds.

Commerce received 56 grant applications requesting $6.62 million in funding.

The lack of affordable, high-quality child care affects virtually every community in Washington. Across the state, 63% of children live in areas with inadequate child care, which reduces the state workforce by approximately 133,000 people, according to a report from the Child Care Collaborative Task Force.

“Access to affordable, quality child care is an economic issue, and it looks different in every community,” said Commerce Director Mike Fong. “This grant program is one way the Department of Commerce is working to support innovative public-private collaborations that help communities define and develop plans that address their unique and highest priority child care needs.”

The Child Care Collaborative Task Force report also documented increased stress in the child care industry since the COVID pandemic. Parents, employers and child care providers continue to face deep challenges, such as high costs of care, low wages for child care workers and employers unable to attract enough employees. The report points to the need for increased community collaboration to successfully address child care shortages.

“The market alone won’t fix child care without additional investments in community planning,” said Cheryl Smith, Commerce director of community engagement and outreach. “Our approach involves supporting local coalitions in identifying and pursuing child care solutions that are most appropriate to them. We’re thrilled to have ongoing funding from Ballmer Group and the Bezos Family Foundation for this important local capacity building program.”

Smith noted that the department hopes to support more historically marginalized and underserved communities that face higher barriers to affordable, quality child care.

The Child Care Partnership grant program, initiated in 2020, focuses on expanding access in communities with limited or no child care options. To date, the grants have supported 41 community partnerships in 28 counties with $4.7 million in planning assistance. Many awarded projects have used the funding to help prepare for and meet prerequisites for capital funding, including from Commerce’s Early Learning Facilities program.

“The CCPG funding allowed our rural hospital the staff time to develop partnerships, hire experts, and develop a plan and design for childcare for our community and workforce. The funding we used for baseline data and designs were essential to the next funding request success. We are now fully funded and will break ground soon,” said Dr. Molly Parker of Jefferson Healthcare on designing a new 42-slot child care facility on the Olympic Peninsula, Jefferson County.

In addition to the Early Learning Facilities capital investments, Commerce also administers Family Friendly Workplaces, offering professional, no-cost business consultations to support employers.

“Local communities developing solutions through partnerships has wide-ranging benefits. Building awareness, relationships, and capacity focused on child care are important for children, families, and communities in the immediate and long term. We are happy to be a partner in supporting this work to improve access to high-quality, affordable care – with awareness of where the need is most acute across Washington state,” said Leslie Dozono, Senior Portfolio Manager, Ballmer Group.

“The Washington State Department of Commerce’s deep commitment to helping ensure all Washington families have access to quality child care is an example of how, together, we can work to best support children in our region,” said Bezos Family Foundation President John Deasy.

Child Care Partnership grant recipients are awarded two years of funding with Year 2 funding contingent upon performance and availability of funds. Grants announced today are:

Name of Organization Location Year 1 Funding Year 2 Funding
Asia Pacific Cultural Center Pierce County $48,000 $39,000
Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship Adams County $77,900 $62,000
DJH Kids and Community Center Pacific County $75,600 $52,200
Educational Service District 123 SE Washington (multiple counties) $65,400 $71,900
Excelsior Wellness Spokane County $41,000 $80,000
HIP of Spokane County (DBA Community-Minded Enterprises) Adams County $71,000
Kwanza Preparatory Academy King County $40,000
Okanogan County Child Development Association Okanogan County $75,900 $60,300
Olympic Peninsula YMCA Clallam and Jefferson Counties $68,000 $62,700
Raze Development Spokane County $72,000 $57,700
Rural Resources Community Action Ferry, Pend Oreille, and Stevens Counties $50,000 $75,000
Shore Metropolitan Park District Clallam County $69,000 $55,500
Somali Childcare Provider Association King County $60,300 $79,000
The Clearwater School Well Being Center Snohomish County $60,000 $76,900
United Way of the Blue Mountains Columbia and Walla Walla Counties $54,000 $45,500
Vashon Youth & Family Services King County $53,200
Voices of Tomorrow King County $54,000 $80,000
Washington Gorge Action Programs Klickitat County $30,000 $40,000

Visit the Commerce website to learn more about Child Care Partnership Grants.



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