The future prosperity of Washington depends on our ability to support our next generation. Unfortunately for families here in Clark County and thousands more across our state, we live in what’s known as a “child care desert,” without access to affordable, high-quality child care.
A child care desert is defined as a community that has more than three children for every licensed child care slot. It’s a big problem here in Washington and across the country, but thankfully Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, recently announced that she is sponsoring bipartisan legislation in the House to increase access to child care.
Currently, 63 percent of people in Washington live in a child care desert, the sixth-highest percentage in the United States. In Washington, 67 percent of mothers of young children participate in the labor force. Without accessible, licensed child care, parents are forced to make a difficult decision: find unlicensed care through family or friends or leave the workforce.
Child care deserts are harming our children and limiting Washington’s potential for economic growth, especially in rural communities. Herrera Beutler deserves to be commended for introducing this bipartisan legislation to expand access to quality child care.