The city and county will give early childhood workers about $800 each

On Monday afternoon, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that the two governments would open applications for a $7.4 million fund to award one-time bonuses. to over 9,000 child care workers. Money from the Kids’ Best Start Tax and the JumpStart Payroll Expense Tax will pay for the program, which aims to keep workers from dropping out of the declining industry.

In a press release, Constantine and Harrell emphasized the importance of child care providers, especially over the past two years during the pandemic. Harrell called the workers “heroes” in the community, despite not being well paid for their services. They earn about $9 an hour less than the median worker, according to the release.

Assuming all estimated eligible workers apply, the $7.4 million split among more than 9,000 people will equate to an average one-time payment of just over $800. A payment of $800 would offset the $9 per hour gap between child care workers and the median worker for about 90 hours of work, or just over two weeks of full-time employment. In Seattle, that wouldn’t cover half a month’s rent for the average one bedroom apartment.

Gabriela Quintana, senior associate in family economic security policy at the Economic Opportunity Institute, called the one-time payments a “nice gesture,” similar to the city’s $3 million in direct cash relief to child care providers. children as part of the Seattle bailout, but she said it would not solve the growing fragility of this essential sector.

Only a wealthy few can afford the true cost of childcare, and the government only subsidizes the service for a small percentage of people on the other side of the spectrum. This political choice leaves approximately half a million children without access to in-state child care. Until the government begins to view childcare as a “common good”, Quintana said, the inaccessibility will persist.

But do you know what the government values? Cops.

Last month, the Seattle City Council vote to free up potentially millions in SPD salary savings for a new recruiting strategy to help the department meet its goal of hiring 125 new officers. When former mayor Jenny Durkan launched the debate over hiring bonuses at the end of her term, she set the price at $10,000 for new hires and $25,000 for lateral hires. Respectively, that’s more than 12 times and 31 times more than the average bonus the city and county will offer to educators.

The council’s recently passed resolution did not include a specific amount for signing bonuses because the bill’s sponsor, council member Sara Nelson, didn’t “really care” about the use of the money by the cops. The board left the details to the executive. The mayor’s office said the mayor was not ready to announce the plan, which “may or may not include hiring incentives.”

The board did, however, approve about $1 million from SPD salary savings to pay for relocation costs for new recruits, a national advertising campaign, and a nationwide search to hire a permanent police chief.

Not everyone has borne these expenses. The leftmost council members – council members Teresa Mosqueda, Tammy Morales and Kshama Sawant – all voted against the measures.

Mosqueda objected to cops using salary savings for recruiting because she believed the money could be better spent balancing the 2023 budget, which could lead to cuts of up to 6% for others. important programs.

Before the vote, Sawant reminded his colleagues that the City pays police officers better than almost any other entry-level job. Instead, she pushed the council to better fund wages for underpaid workers who “really transform people’s lives” like social workers.

For Mosqueda, child care is another important area where the city needs to do “much more” to ensure workers are paid fairly and families get the care they need.

When the city seems willing to give much more to stabilize the police department than the child care workers, Quintana said, “It shows what we value as a society. We don’t value child care workers the same as police officers.

Comments are closed.