Finding high-quality, affordable childcare is one of the most important steps you will take for your family as you pursue an education.

Care Providers

  • Family and Friends: Sometimes family or friends are able to care for children while their parents go to school. This can be a good option when caregivers plan age-appropriate activities and stay informed about healthy child development.

  • Licensed Care Facilities: Childcare providers licensed by the state receive early learning training, important safety instruction, and first aid training. They must pass criminal background checks, and their childcare facilities must pass state inspection. Licensed childcare can be provided in a home setting or in a childcare center.

  • On-Campus: Many colleges in Washington offer licensed on-campus childcare centers or partnerships with licensed facilities near campus. Some employers may offer on-site care facilities as well. When considering on-campus care providers, keep in mind that most on-campus facilities follow their institution’s academic calendar for breaks and closures. If you are considering evening/weekend or summer programs, you may need alternative childcare arrangements.

Availability

Childcare providers’ operating hours and ages served vary widely, which can be challenging to fit with your schedule. Some providers may be more flexible when it comes to things like early drop-off, late pick-up, and drop-in or weekend care.

Financial Assistance

Some colleges offer assistance programs such as scholarships or vouchers that may pay a provider directly or reimburse students who demonstrate financial need.

Some childcare providers offer a multi-child discount or a sliding-scale discount based on income.

Some employers offer flexible/dependent care spending accounts, which allow costs for childcare to be deducted from your paycheck pre-tax.

Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) provides financial assistance to low-income parents who are working or going to school. WCCC may waive the work-hour requirement for parents pursuing certain fields full-time at a community or technical college.

Tips

  • Check dates and hours of operation for on-campus facilities, especially when considering an evening/weekend or summer programs.

  • When you interview caregivers, discuss what you can afford. Request written information about costs.

  • Ask your employer if a flexible spending account is available.

Ask the Campus

  • Does the college offer on-campus or nearby childcare for students?

    • What ages are served?

    • When is care available—during which hours, on which days? Is the center open during school breaks?

  • Does the campus provide any financial assistance with childcare?

    • What are the requirements?

    • What is the application process?

Resources

  • Child Care Check: The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) offers a childcare search tool for parents.

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