Every Child Deserves a Fair Start

In Vol. 1 of Around the Community, we take a closer look at legislation in Washington state that aims to solve multiple issues impacting the child care system.

I’m so excited to welcome you to the first edition of Around the Community!

Every day at LegUp, we consider ourselves lucky to hear about and witness the incredible work of so many dedicated partners, advocates, and policymakers across the country. So we created “Around the Community” so we can share some of these inspiring stories with you. We hope that you’ll learn from the important work that others are doing, seek to make connections, and share these stories and this progress being made with your network!


We’re kicking off our inaugural issue of Around the Community with the incredible work of Washington state Representative Tana Senn on the Fair Start for Kids Act that Governor Inslee recently signed into law.

Rep. Senn is a working mom with two children, and a state representative for Washington's 41st Legislative District. Rep. Senn consistently advocates for busy families through policies that address education and community needs and seeks upstream solutions to prevent crises before they occur. Rep. Senn chairs the Children, Youth & Families Committee and sits on the Local Government Committee and the Appropriations Committee. Prior to serving the 41st Legislative District, Rep. Senn earned a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration from Columbia University and worked for 15 years in government relations and communications in the private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors before her tenure on the Mercer Island City Council.

Read on to learn what you need to know about the Fair Start for Kids Act from Rep. Senn herself!

REP. SENN: In January of this year, Washington State Senator Claire Wilson and I introduced companion legislation to address the child care crisis costing Washington families, businesses, and the economy. In May, Governor Inslee signed the Fair Start for Kids Act into law, making child care more affordable and accessible for families across Washington state. The bill takes a multifaceted approach to several areas of need within the industry—from affordability for parents to facilities improvements, and provider pay and supports—to ensure holistic and sustainable change. (Sources: here and here)

REP. SENN: The pandemic broadly exposed the child care crisis. When child care doesn’t work, neither can parents, especially moms. The Fair Start for Kids Act will help power Washington’s economic recovery by increasing eligibility for child care subsidies, investing in the diverse child care workforce, and providing small business supports in order to expand accessible, affordable, and high-quality child care so parents can get back to work and all kids can get a fair start in life. (Source)

REP. SENN: The Fair Start for Kids Act is a multi-pronged approach to most effectively solve the child care crisis in Washington state. The legislation will: 

  • Dramatically reduce copays and expand eligibility for the Working Connections Child Care and the Early Childhood Education and Assistance programs (the state’s preschool program).

  • Make capital investments to expand existing child care facilities and build new facilities.

  • Strengthen child care programs by expanding access to mental health consultations, dual language supports, equity grants, and more.

  • Grow recruitment and retention of child care providers by increasing subsidy rates, expanding access to health insurance, and providing resources for professional development.

Importantly, effective October 1, the Fair Start for Kids Act will help make child care more affordable for families by significantly reducing the copays for low-income families and expanding eligibility for subsidies through Working Connections so more middle class families can see cost relief. 

Its historic passage and investments will significantly increase access to affordable, quality care across the state which will help with economic recovery, get parents back to work, and give more kids a fair start in life. This legislation has been many years in the making and is a result of dozens and dozens of visits to child care providers around the state.

You can learn more about the Fair Start for Kids Act and the expanded eligibility criteria for families here. A sincere thank you to Rep. Senn and her team for providing more insight on the legislation!