• The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tom Dent, says regulations are hurting the workforce

By Cameron Sheppard

WNPA News Service

Parents could have better access to childcare providers if lawmakers pass a bill that aims to make the childcare certification process cheaper and easier.

The primary sponsor of House Bill 2556, Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, said he intends for this legislation to address parents’ need for affordable childcare as well as to provide relief to childcare providers from regulations that he claimed are hurting the workforce.

Based on his research and experience, Dent said he believes the current regulations and certification training imposed by the Department of Children, Youth and Families are “far over the top,” and the costs to comply with them are challenging businesses to stay open.

“My fear that I have with early learning — and it is happening — our providers are quitting and many of them are going underground,” Dent pleaded to the House Human Services & Early Learning Committee during a hearing on Jan. 28.

The proposed bill would push to provide community-based training pathways for easier and more accessible certification. The bill stipulates the training certification cannot exceed $250 per person and calls for a review of ways to give college or technical school credit to providers in childcare training.

Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, spoke in favor of the legislation at a House Human Services & Early Learning Committee hearing on Feb. 7. Senn said the bill will provide training that is culturally and linguistically relevant to different communities across the state as it would make training available in different languages and equally accessible in both urban and rural areas.

“We need to lighten up a little bit about what we are requiring from people,” Dent argued, “and be realistic and pragmatic about what we want and where we want our early learning program to go.”