News Release: DCYF Announces Changes that Help More Families Afford High-Quality Child Care

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September 29, 2021

DCYF Announces Changes that Help More Families Afford High-Quality Child Care

Olympia, WA – Starting Oct. 1, Washington families struggling to afford high-quality child care will have more options. 

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) will implement measures to decrease family copayments and increase income eligibility for families accessing child care subsidies.

  • A first measure will dramatically decrease child care copays from the current rate of up to 20% of a family’s monthly income to no more than 7%. This reduces the benefits cliff and empowers Washington parents with more options for early learning experiences. As a result, DCYF expects up to 3,900 families will have more access to affordable, high-quality child care.
  • The second measure will increase eligibility to 60% of the Washington State Median Income (SMI). The previous eligibility was based on the U.S. Federal Poverty Level. This change provides more families with benefits. By increasing family income limits, DCYF expects up to 2,100 additional families to access child care subsidies in the next 12 months.

The changes, with positive outcomes for some 6,000 families, are just part of a new focus on meeting the challenges to child care in Washington under the Fair Start for Kids Act.   

“The Fair Start for Kids Act is a historic opportunity for Washington State to stabilize child care, expand access, and make child care more affordable for families. The Oct. 1 milestones allow more families access to high-quality child care,” said DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter.

DCYF’s Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) subsidy helps low-income families pay for child care. When a family qualifies for child care subsidy benefits and chooses an eligible provider, the state pays a portion of the cost of child care. The parent may be responsible for paying a copayment to their provider each month.

Under the Fair Start for Kids Act, a family of four enrolled in the WCCC subsidy program could make up to $5,088 and still qualify, capping their copay at $115 a month. For single-parent households, a family of two can make up to $3,460 and still qualify for the $115 copay.

DCYF will continue to support child care providers by releasing stabilization grants this fall totaling $360 million. This much-needed investment in child care supports economic recovery and helps to provide a fair start for kids.


Media Contact:

Jason Wettstein