I am urging a vote for our legislators to support the Fair Start for Kids Act, HB 1213 and SB 5237. My daughter is in the Centralia College Early Learning Program. We are lucky to have access to the program. It has been a huge help for our daughter’s development. She was delayed in speech, and she was able to be enrolled in ECEAP at 3 years old. Since joining the program, she has made great gains with her speech, as well as social emotional skills. Due to COVID, she is in person two days a week, then she has a Zoom meeting one day a week. It has been crucial for her development, especially at this time. ECEAP has provided us with materials for our daughter to learn her letters, numbers, colors and other things. She loves going to “school” to learn. She also loves participating in her Zoom meetings with her teacher and classmates. Unfortunately, due to budget and enrollment issues, we don’t have bus service this year. This causes additional strain on us trying to get our daughter to preschool, because my wife works, we have an infant at home, and two other children doing distance learning. It is a mental and emotional strain on the kids and us adults. We had to pull our children from child care right before the pandemic. Our copay went from $65 to over $500 for one full time child, one part time child, and two children to be watched for 30 minutes three times a week. I am now home caring for our children.
Having young kids is a big struggle when it comes to childcare and education. Right now, in-person schooling is very limited, adding additional strain. It is hard to find child care that is affordable, easily accessible and able to take all of our children. ECEAP and child care are vital to our communities, and the Fair Start for Kids Act will provide important opportunities for children from birth to 5 and will help our economy recover, get people back to work and help prepare our children for kindergarten and life long success. Programs like ECEAP help close educational gaps, support families and get families out of poverty. We need a “Fair Start” for all of our children.