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Childcare affordability is a WSLC priority

Access expanded for apprentices, but more needs to be done. Let legislators hear your stories about struggling to afford or find child care.


OLYMPIA (Aug. 23, 2023) — Working parents are all affected by the costs and availability of child care. Plus, different families have unique times and locations that they need care for their children. That’s why the Workforce Development and Legislative departments of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO have prioritized expanding access to affordable, flexible child care.

This year, the Washington State Legislature passed HB 1525, sponsored by Rep. Mary Fosse (D-Everett), which improves childcare access for first-year apprentices in state-registered apprenticeships. Spearheaded by Ironworkers 86, SEIU 925 and the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, this bill expanded Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) eligibility — effective July 1 — to include the first 12 months of enrollment in a state-registered apprenticeship program. It drew strong bipartisan support and will assist hundreds of workers each year.

“Child care is a huge barrier in the recruitment and retention of apprentices, especially for women, and single parents as they often carry the burden of caregiving responsibilities,” said Rep. Fosse. “As our state faces workforce shortages in construction and other vocations, child care is an additional hurdle we must do more to address. I’m hopeful this bill will not only aid working families, but also help in the effort to diversify the building and construction trades and reduce our workforce shortages.”

In the past, anyone receiving a WCCC childcare subsidy has lost it immediately when accepted into a registered apprenticeship program because of the wages they earn while they learn. Unions have surveyed apprentices and found many cited childcare costs and availability among the reasons for discontinuing their participation in the program.

This expansion for the entire first year of  a registered apprenticeship — regardless of wages being earned — will help with recruitment and retention of workers in the building, manufacturing and healthcare fields.

For more information and to find out if you or your union members qualify, please contact a child care navigator at Working Connections by calling 1-844-626-8687 or visit the WCCC website.

Do you struggle to find or afford child care? Have you had to adjust your schedule, make big changes to your household budget, or stop working entirely because of child care issues? If you answer “yes,” know that thousands of parents across Washington state are in the same position.

TAKE A STAND — The WSLC is urging state legislators to make big investments in child care, to make it more affordable for families, and make these good union jobs that don’t have sky-high turnover. Some legislators say they don’t hear from their constituents that this is a problem. Click here to send a message to your legislators. Please personalize it with your story – it’s much more impactful than sending a form letter.


WSLC Wednesdays is a feature of The Stand where different departments of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO describe their recent activities and the services they are providing to WSLC-affiliated unions.

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