A recent study conducted by a collaborative task force of child care organizations, found that roughly 550,000 kids in Washington do not have access to child care services, and that “the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced capacity even further.” Of the parents surveyed, 18% reported turning down a job over child care issues. This is an economic issue as much as it is a social and education issue.
According to the Census, there are 4,500 children under the age of 5 in Lewis County. According to Child Care Aware of Washington, there are 1,500 child care/early learning spots available. The new statistics are may be increased by remote learning, and the fact that 18% of Washington’s child care programs are currently closed, leaving working parents with few options.
We need to create more opportunities for pre-kindergarten children to successfully prepare for school, develop safe places for school-aged students to play and study, and provide opportunities for parents to work and earn a living. Our community is not merely talking about this issue but proactively developing a United Learning Center.
I look at my own family with a 9 year old student entering 4th grade, 7 year old student entering 2nd grade, and my wife and I both working full time. Government overregulation of the industry and lack of investment has created limited options at best!
That is why we are working on the United Learning Center to help families and businesses. Our Community wants to get back to work, but many are held back by barriers created by COVID-19 and the Governor’s Orders. Pre-kindergarten programs and child care are priorities. I know this from my experiences and from the families I speak with across the 20th District.Peter Abbarno, Candidate for State House of Representatives in the 20th Legislative District.
United Learning Center: A Little History
- United Way Luncheon Highlights Efforts to Reduce Poverty. The Daily Chronicle, September 27, 2019
- $2M in House Capital Budget Could Fund Early Learning Center. The Daily Chronicle, March 29, 2019
- Centralia-Chehalis Early Learning Conversion Project Gets Extra $1M From State. The Daily Chronicle, March 23, 2020
- Guest Commentary: United Learning Center Would Serve Families and Our Community. The Daily Chronicle, August 10, 2020
- Community Organizations Join Forces for United Learning Center in Centralia. The Daily Chronicle, August 10, 2020
- Centralia Approves $1.9 Million Investment for United Learning Center. The Daily Chronicle, August 12, 2020
- Partners Hope to Begin Construction on United Learning Center in Centralia by End of Year. The Daily Chronicle, August 21, 2020
- Report: Pandemic stressing Washington’s ‘already fragile’ child care system. MyNorthwest.com, August 26, 2020.
Children enrolled in early learning and child care programs have:
- Increased Graduation Rates, which means the creation of productive workers and more contributors to the tax system;
- Increased adult income earning capacity, which means less poverty;
- Increased rate of home ownership, which means stronger neighborhoods and families;
- Decreasing adult dependency on government programs, which means smaller government and less taxes; and
- Reducing Crime rates, which means smaller government, less taxes, and safer streets.
I am opposed to meaningless government programs and a culture of reliance that measures success by headlines and dollars spent. That is why the United Learning Center is so appealing, it is a locally based collaboration of United Way, Discovery! Children’s Museum, Boys and Girls Club, and private and public investments.
Early learning programs are investments in learning and growth opportunities for children and they are financial independence opportunities for the families and parents. By adopting a plan of Early Identification, Early Intervention, Early Learning, our schools and communities could be much better at reducing poverty and setting the next generation up for success.Peter Abbarno, Candidate for State House of Representatives in the 20th Legislative District.