80% of Snohomish County residents live in 'extreme child care desert,' $12M announced in funding

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers has announced a $12 million spending plan to invest in expanding access to affordable childcare for country residents. 

The $12 million is part of the County’s federal American Rescue Plan Act allocation and was appropriated late last year as part of the 2023 budget.

"The pandemic highlighted the childcare challenges many families face in Snohomish County. These investments in child care will help expand the availability of quality child care and help workers looking to re-enter the workforce with the peace of mind that their children are well looked after," said County Council Vice Chair Nate Nehring, representing District 1. 

According to the county, an estimated 80% of residents live in an "extreme childcare desert," and there are only 62 slots of childcare for every 100 infants, toddlers or preschoolers. The state average is 79 slots per 100 children, according to the county.

The $12 million will be divvied up among four factors: 

  • $5M going to start-up and expansion grants, which would increase the availability of slots for non-profit and for-profit care facilities. 
  • $3.8M going to workforce retention and training/certifications
  • $3M to continued Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) stabilization, ensuring that these child care slots remain open for communities most in need. 
  • $200,000 to implement community-led recruitment in areas where there are barriers to child care access.