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King County, Seattle to give child care worker payments

A woman in a black coat signs a banner taped onto a whiteboard that reads: "King county Best Starts for Kids."
Ned Ahrens
King County
A ceremonial bill signing event for King County's Best Start for Kids in 2016.

SEATTLE (AP) — Citing low wages and COVID risk, King County and the City of Seattle will grant $7 million in one-time payments to child care workers.

The Seattle Times reports that Mayor Bruce Harrell and King County Executive Dow Constantine on Monday announced a batch of jointly funded one-time payments for child care workers. The money comes from a $5 million allocation from the county’s Best Start for Kids levy and $2.4 million from the city’s JumpStart tax to aid child care workers.

“The pandemic reminded us all that childcare providers are nothing short of heroic,” Constantine said at a news conference.

The payments are a necessary incentive as the toll of the pandemic and rising cost of living in Seattle and King County are pushing child care workers out of the industry, according to Kids Co. President and CEO Susan Brown.

“We’ve built a nonprofit childcare organization that, pre-pandemic was literally serving 900-1,400 kids annually,” Brown said. “But today we’re barely serving a fraction of that as a consequence of one very important thing: The challenge of finding people to do this work.”

The amount of individual payments will depend on the number of qualified applicants. Constantine said he anticipates about 9,000 applications.

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