There are 50,000 parents in Washington state between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, a rate of about 8 percent, according to a new Kids Count policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
That puts Washington below the national average of 10 percent. But a majority of young parents struggle financially and need more support, the report said.
Allison Krutsinger, early learning policy director with Children's Alliance, a nonprofit group that worked on the report, said one way policy makers can help young parents is to improve access to subsidized child care.
“Making sure that the state investment in the subsidy is robust so that providers are incentivized and can frankly afford to provide high-quality care to infants and toddlers is really critical,” Krutsinger said.
Lawmakers should raise the reimbursement rate paid to providers for the state's subsidized child care program, she said, because reimbursement rates have not kept up with the cost of living and some providers have opted out of the program because it's not worth it financially.
Almost 43 percent of young adult parents in Washington are people of color. Sixty-three percent of children with parents aged 18 to 24 live in low-income households here, the report said. The national average is 69 percent.
“Financial instability compounds the stress any new parent would experience while reducing resources available to nurture their child’s well-being and development, producing a vicious cycle,” the report said.