By Aaron Allen
The rising costs of childcare is a growing concern in Seattle and throughout the country, especially African American and other marginalized communities.
To address the issue, Sen. Parry Murray has re-introduced the Childcare For Working Families Act, a bold, comprehensive plan to make child care more affordable for low and middle-income families and strengthen federal investments in the child care industry to ensure everyone has access to high-quality, affordable child care in their area.
Murray, who visited the Voices of tomorrow, and early childhood development center in Seattle, to discuss her legislation and its unique impact on families of color, believes the rising cost of childcare has put an undue burden on too many working-class families.
“I talked to people today that pay more than half their income for childcare and we want to make sure that every child not getting a good education isn’t because their family can’t afford it,” said Murray during her visit. “[This] bill really focuses on making sure that we have affordable childcare so that no family in America pays more than seven percent of their income.”
Voices of Tomorrow’s co-founder and CEO ZamZam Mohamed says she started the center to help children of color and refugee children get an early start in preparing them to navigate and succeed in education.
According to Mohamed, she and her staff have worked diligently to supporting families, particularly migrant families, adjust to their new surroundings. In addition, they have helped educate children of all cultural backgrounds to prepare them for school and life.
“What we are trying to achieve is really a cultural responsive program that supports children at an early age to get them ready for school, for life and just for them to really navigate the system successfully,” says Mohamed.
“The way we are doing that is through the dual language preschool program and also building the capacity for our family childcare providers, parents and community members that work with children zero to 5 because we know that we can’t do the work ourselves,” Mohamed continued.
During the intimate meeting with Murray, children, parents and childcare providers described the challenges families face with the rising costs of childcare and education and inequality in pay for teachers and providers.
“I am really impressed with the work that Voices of Tomorrow is doing and I am going to take these families stories back to Washington D.C. and make sure that we provide these types of cultural centers, early childhood centers for every young person in America,” says Murray.
In this economic environment teachers and childcare providers are struggling due to low paying wages forcing the high cost of childcare and education and Murray’s bill looks to address this issue.
“The bill also focuses on development and pay for our early childhood education and childcare workers because we have very high turnover rates because they just don’t get paid enough to stay in the positions, that’s important for them and it’s also important for our children,” said Murray.
According to the staff at Voices of Tomorrow, affordability and accessibility is the key to the success of early childhood development, and that they are living proof that under the right circumstances all children can be successful.
Murray seconds this notion and believes that the passage of the Childcare For Working Families Act will make sure that children and their families across the country will get the support that they need to succeed.
This article originally appeared in The Seattle Medium.