Pierce County to spend Sound Transit 3 money on child care



Kindergarten and first graders arrive for the first day of modified in-person learning at Sunrise Elementary School in Puyallup on January 12, 2021. Pierce County Council recently voted to start spending its share of the money. Sound Transit 3 education money for early childhood programs.


Pierce County is ready to start spending a portion of the $ 130 million it receives on education programs through the Sound Transit 3 project.

As part of the passage of the 2022-2023 budget, the county council allocated $ 8.743 million of ST3 money to focus largely on early childhood education and care. Sound Transit 3 has raised billions in tax revenue to expand light rail and other transit projects throughout the Puget Sound area.

In 2015, the state legislature ordered that certain Sound Transit 3 funds collected from a levy on ST3 construction projects be used by King, Pierce and Snohomish counties to improve education in the early learning in higher education.

In the population-based allocations, $ 318 million was designated for King County, $ 130 million for Pierce County and $ 81 million for Snohomish County. Counties have 19 years, or until 2034, to spend the dollars.

Pierce County held meetings with stakeholders in 2019. These groups recommended focusing on children from low-income families, who are vulnerable or have experienced homelessness or have been placed in foster care. or by relatives.

County Council Chairman Derek Young (D-Gig Harbor) said the council wanted to wait to start allocating the money while it considered an educational endowment, which typically involves private philanthropy and consultation with the ‘State.

“I don’t necessarily want to spend all the money we have right now,” he said. “These are one-time dollars that will come over the next 25 years. It will go through like a generation of children. But what would be truly incredible if we could turn this one-generation funding into a lifelong promise to children and their peers. “

Young hopes the board decides to put a quarter of the $ 130 million, or about $ 32.5 million, into the endowment.

The council wishes to focus on early childhood education services. The pandemic highlights the importance of access to early childhood care and education. Young said he wanted early childhood education and child care providers to have higher wages and frontline workers to have easier access to child care.

“COVID has shaken up the child care industry – it was already tough. This has made life essentially impossible with the pandemic, ”he said.

In the 2021-2022 budget, the board approved the following allocations for the fund:

  • An initial deposit for the endowment: $ 2.5 million

  • Child Care Capacity Initiative: $ 1.25 million

  • Multicultural Center for Children and Families $ 1 million

  • Child Care Aware of Washington Scholarships: $ 1 million

  • First Five Fundamentals Start-Up Grants: $ 1 million

  • Step-by-step family support center: $ 500,000

  • Child Care Resources Real-Time Job Vacancy Database: $ 200,000

  • Child Care Resources Homeless Child Care Grant Program: $ 300,000

  • HopeSparks Family Services: $ 650,000

  • Child Care Vouchers for Pierce County Student Parents: $ 200,000

  • Scientific, technological and engineering equipment at the University of Washington in Tacoma: $ 143,000

Another conversation is expected in early 2022 on additional allocations from Sound Transit 3, spokesman Brynn Grimley said in an email.

King County has already allocated its $ 318 million to build and renovate early childhood facilities, services for high school students through post-secondary acceptance and positive racial identity development and ethnic.

Josephine Peterson covers Pierce County government news for The News Tribune.

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