SEATTLE - As working parents figure out how remote learning will look for their students in the fall, thousands of families are facing financial hardships when it comes to being able to afford childcare during this pandemic.
Now, a statewide organization is helping families struggling to pay for childcare costs.
The non-profit organization, ChildCare Aware Washington, has opened a family center hotline for parents seeking information about financial assistance or alternative childcare options.
For example, parents in Pierce and Thurston Counties could receive up to three months of financial assistance for childcare services through the federal economic stimulus bill known as The CARES Act.
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Several other cities are considering using their CARES Act funding in similar ways.
Deeann Puffert, the CEO of ChildCare Aware of Washington, says the non-profit organization is working around the clock to inform parents of their childcare options during the pandemic.
“It’s creating a huge financial hardship for families,” said Puffert.
“A lot of families think I’m working and subsidies from the state are for families who are not working, but the reality is it is available for those that are working. I think we are missing some families who just don’t know.”
Childcare providers across Washington are also struggling to get the essential supplies they need to stay open. Items like toilet paper, bleach and hand soap are in high demand.
There are currently 1,053 closed childcare programs across the state with the combined capacity to serve 48,146 children.
In addition to helping families impacted by closed childcare programs, the organization is also helping childcare providers to reopen.
ChildCare Aware of Washington has now provided $600,000 in cleaning supplies to childcare providers across Washington since the start of the pandemic.
“We’re hearing both from families and providers who are saying what do I do with school-aged kids all day long every day five days a week in my program.”
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ChildCare Aware is also collaborating with Cascadia Produce to provide fresh produce for families and childcare providers in need.
Last Saturday, hundreds of boxes of fresh produce were handed out to families in Tacoma at The Tacoma Children’s Museum.
For more information about which childcare resources you may qualify for, contact the ChildCare Aware Family Center at 1-800-446-1114.