Two new laws signed today by Gov. Inslee will ensure the delivery of full childcare benefits for eligible households under the Working Connections Childcare (WWC) program and will improve teen parents’ chances of attaining the education and graduation credentials to position them and their children for more successful lives.

“Childcare has never been more needed or less accessible than it is today, and it often determines whether parents and children thrive or struggle — not just during their school years but throughout their lives,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), who sponsored both bills. “I know the tremendous difference it can make because I saw the impacts firsthand each and every day when I worked in our public schools.”

The first bill, Senate Bill 6540, ensures that children will receive the full, 12-month childcare benefit for which they qualify under Working Connections. Under the current system, the 12-month clock starts as soon as an application is processed — often weeks and even months before a parent can find and arrange childcare — and expires after 12 months, even if the child has been in care for only a few months. Wilson’s law delays the start of the clock until the child begins receiving care.

The second law, also sponsored by Wilson in the Senate, passed in the form of a companion bill in the House — House Bill 2455. This measure extends, within existing resources, full-time subsidized childcare during the school year to eligible parents attending high school or working toward a high school equivalency certificate.

“Access to childcare makes for healthier households and more successful students,” said Wilson, vice chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. “When teen parents are able to stay in school or complete the work to earn a diploma, they position themselves and their children for more successful lives and they make our communities stronger.”

These are two of a slate of bills Wilson sponsored and shepherded to passage this year that improve childcare access, quality or safety. Two other Senate bills — SB 5434 and SB 6483 — prohibit guns at childcare facilities and allow childcare providers additional time to make remedial improvements that improve quality of care.