EVERETT — Soon there will be about 360 new child care slots to address an urgent need in Snohomish County, the county executive announced Thursday.
That’s thanks to a $7.6 million investment of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act dollars.
Child care is more scarce in Snohomish County than the state as a whole, with only 62 slots for every 100 pre-K children compared to the state’s 79, according to data from Child Care Aware cited by the county.
The slots will last for at least 20 years, County Executive Dave Somers said.
Six organizations received grants to increase child care capacity.
“If you’ve been paying attention and talking to businesses and families around the community, this is a huge area of need,” Somers said.
On Thursday, the executive spoke in front of a group of elected officials, former students and heads of organizations receiving funds.
The announcement took place at south Everett’s Rise Up Academy, which is getting $2 million to build a new early childhood learning center. The center will increase the academy’s capacity from 70 to 130. It will be located on the first floor of a planned three-story building, with the other two floors dedicated to affordable housing.
Volunteers of America Western Washington is also receiving $2 million. The money will go toward pre-K classroom space serving 62 kids at the future Lynnwood Neighborhood Center, a facility that will have a variety of support services, including medical care.
Another $1 million went to Housing Hope for a new Tomorrow’s Hope Child Development Center building that would double the program’s capacity, according to the county.
The services the program provides are important “because we know that children who come out of poverty and who’ve experienced homelessness tend to be less ready for kindergarten than their counterparts,” said Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton.
Programs like Tomorrow’s Hope aim to close that gap.
Camp Fire Snohomish County also got $1 million to open a new child care facility in Stanwood which will enroll 32 children.
“Any parent you talk to, you’ll find out that they struggle to find childcare,” Camp Fire Executive Director Krissy Davis said. “Helping to fill that gap is gonna be pretty huge.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County will also open a new child care facility with the help of a $1 million grant from the county. The new building will open 50 more slots in Edmonds, bringing the total there to 120.
A final $656,193 will go to the Latino Educational Training Institute to build a child development center serving 20 kids.
“We are an affluent county in many ways,” Somers said at the announcement, citing a high median income compared to other counties in the state. “That creates its own challenges” including high cost of housing and healthcare.
“Even though many are doing well,” he said, “there’s many that are not.”