Teddy Bear Daycare, Kennewick

WASHINGTON: New rules for in-home daycare providers and early learning centers take effect in August. Providers are saying the childcare crisis in Washington could only get worse.

Two years ago the 'Department of Early Learning' now part of the 'Department of Children Youth and Families' came up with a list of regulations intended to improve the quality of licensed in-home daycare and childcare centers.

Delay the WAC Sign

The new regulations set to take effect require these providers to earn 'Early Childhood Education Certificates' approved by the state. In other words- childcare providers must receive college credit in addition to their current licenses, and maintain 10 hours a year after that. Providers have 5 years to early the credits once the WAC's take effect.

Many care providers are saying the certificate is costly; upwards of $3,000 dollars, and they could go out of business.

"I already know of 5 daycare that have closed. I can't believe we will need a degree to do childcare," said Teddy Bear Daycare Owner Vicky Priest.

Vicky Priest has been a caretaker for over 30 years, she says a degree won't change the way she's cared for children in the past. Priest says, it also won't prepare them for kindergarten any differently than what she's already been doing for years.

"I don't feel like the state had the right to tell us that, and give us no funding for it," said Priest. "I get phone calls probably 8 to 10 times a day for parents looking for childcare."

Childcare across Washington is in high demand. Ashley Mings, a customer of Priest's says she knows that firsthand. Mings has been taking her son to Priest for some time. Before Mings' son became of age to attend Priest's daycare, Mings says she called several daycare facilities to find a reliable place. Mings eventually found one that turned out to be a bad experience.

"If Vicky was to have to close down due to the WAC's, then I wouldn't be able to find quality childcare, or childcare let alone," said Mings. "They've become like family to us. I have friends looking for childcare and they have called places that have 50 plus families on their waiting list already."

Priest says it's not only the degree that the WAC's will require. Facilities would have to change the way they operate too, like becoming ADA compliant. That addition could be costly too, Priest says.

Licensed caretakers across Washington are asking for more time and federal assistance with paying for schooling.

The WAC's take effect in August. Everyone working in both in-home daycare and childcare centers must have the degree within 5 years.

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