Wondering how to get child care assistance in Yakima? Why child care can be so hard to find? What impact this has on the local economy, or on young learners?

If you haven’t already, register for our upcoming free virtual town hall on child care access in Central Washington. It starts at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Yakima Herald-Republic education reporter Janelle Retka has been reporting on child care in Central Washington for more than two years. She has covered providers struggling to stay open before and during the pandemic, parents’ trials in finding care, the long-term impacts these early learning settings can have on children, and the cost to businesses when care is unstable or unavailable. More recently, the Growth Gap series has dug into where there are shortages in child care, and solutions to the problem.

On Thursday, Retka will be joined by Child Care Aware of Washington CEO Deeann Burtch Puffert to answer questions about where child care in the state stands and what changes are still needed.

Child Care Aware is a nonprofit organization that supports providers and parents seeking care. It has been tasked with coordinating child care access in Washington during the pandemic. Burtch Puffert will offer insight into the needs of parents and child care providers, and how things look as the state continues to open back up.

Register by visiting www.bit.ly/3xxXAxM, or find the event details on Facebook at www.facebook.com/yakimaheraldrepublic under events. The conversation will be available in English with live captioning in Spanish.

Feel free to invite others, and to send an email to jretka@yakimaherald.com with your comments and questions. Let us know how a lack of child care has impacted you, your family or business.

Next up

In next week’s edition of The Growth Gap, we’ll dive into how the business community and economy are impacted by child care access. You can read about a model for business investments in early learning, created through the vision of the late fruit grower and philanthropist Cliff Plath of Yakima. Plus, we’ll share in-the-classroom insight into what high-quality early learning or child care looks like, and the growth teachers are seeing that prepares these little ones for a strong start to K-12.

Read more child care coverage by visiting YakimaHerald.com/special_projects/growth_gap.

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