FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Board of County Commissioners of Spokane County unanimously voted to provide SWC and its partners with American Rescue Plan Act funding.
Spokane, WA – The Board of County Commissioners of Spokane County, Washington, voted unanimously to provide the Spokane Workforce Council (SWC) with $2 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to develop and implement a comprehensive program to support middle-income families struggling with childcare costs and the childcare industry experiencing challenges hiring and retaining workers. Stabilizing our region’s childcare industry is crucial to continued economic recovery after the pandemic and growing our regional workforce.
“We are grateful that the Spokane County Commissioners are making a significant investment in this workforce development initiative,” said Mark Mattke, SWC CEO. He continues, “the $2 million will provide us with the resources necessary to develop our capacity and integrate childcare more effectively as a key component of how our local workforce system supports parents as they advance in their career pathways. We will also be able to address worker shortages to help improve the talent pipeline into this important industry. These outcomes will benefit area businesses by increasing the available workforce in a wide range of in-demand jobs.”
During the pandemic, thousands of parents left the workforce to care for children and are struggling to return. Over 13% of childcare providers in Washington closed during the pandemic, and since have struggled to re-open, retain workers, and provide consistent and reliable staffing. With soaring rent costs, families often cannot afford both rent and childcare, forcing parents to make difficult choices, with their income levels or childcare needs often not meeting state guidelines for subsidized assistance. According to Child Care Aware, the number of licensed providers and slots available continues to decline in Spokane County. A survey completed in August of 2022 by the Spokane Workforce Council indicates that parents are struggling to find affordable and consistent care. 75% of respondents indicated multiple barriers to accessing childcare, including cost, lack of openings, needing care during non-traditional hours, and a lack of quality care available. For survey respondents that do not receive state-subsidized childcare, the average monthly out-of-pocket expense is $1369 per month; essentially a second mortgage on top of rising housing and living expenses.
“This funding will provide a holistic approach to this crisis in our community, supporting middle income families and childcare providers, and help mitigate the loss of talent we have experienced as a result of the pandemic,” said Jessica Clayton, SWC Program and Development Director.
Career development services are provided on the WorkSource Spokane Campus that help area residents get the skills they need to compete in today’s economy. In addition to the support for childcare offered by this new initiative, services include include education, on-the-job training, paid work experience/internships, pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships, and other supports to assist workers in achieving and retaining employment. Job seeker customers can reach out to our one-stop centers to inquire about all the employment-related services, resources, and support available:
- WorkSource Spokane, 509.532.3120
- Next Generation Zone, 509.340.7800
- Resource Center of Spokane County, 509.867.8188
The Spokane Workforce Council (SWC) and its WorkSource Spokane Campus (WorkSource Spokane, Next Generation Zone, Spokane Resource Center, and Talent Solutions by WorkSource Spokane) are the local workforce development authorities and provide assistance to the community through employment resources and support. As a proud partner of the American Job Center Network, the SWC and its WorkSource Spokane Campus are equal opportunity employers/programs. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Washington Relay 711.