North Kitsap day care providers seek better care from the state

POULSBO — While the costs of day care can tug at the pockets of parents like a fussy toddler, providers are feeling the same pull with their own operational budgets.

However, Buddies and Pal Day Care owner Debra Robison of Suquamish is working to see how providers can make it easier on themselves as well as parents.

Robison and other licensed day care providers in the area will be meeting at 6 p.m. March 29 at Orchard Meadows Day Care at 3729 NE Lincoln Road with Linda Tiner of the Washington State Family Child Care Association. The effort is to improve both the quality of care they provide and their own quality of life.

Robison said the group wants to find out how it can attain more state funding to provide better care for its clients as well as information on how to unionize to get medical and retirement benefits.

“We don’t have any of that right now,” Robison said. “Plus, we basically want to unite together.”

Robison has been providing in-home child care in Suquamish for about seven years. As a Department of Social and Health Services licensed provider, she can accept children whose parents qualify for day care funding assistance from DSHS. However, she and others feel the state is not putting up enough money to help care for these youths.

“We are underpaid through the state with DSHS,” she said, noting she gets a total of $255 per month for eight kids in half-day care.

Robison said additional monies would help support the funding for food. Establishing a food stamp-type program would be helpful, she added. Increasing the income eligibility for working families is another aspect that Robison said she would support.

“Minimum wage has gone up so people can’t qualify for (the DSHS) program,” she said. When children can’t qualify, parents have to pay more out of their pockets, making it harder on them, Robison explained.

She also said she feels it is not fair that DSHS bases the rates per child depending on where the day care is located. Day cares in King County, she pointed out, receive more money per child than in Kitsap.

“They say the reason for that is because of their taxes,” Robison said. “That should not make a difference.”

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