This Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is to establish a Workforce Demonstration Pilot Project (Pilot Project), which will run through 2027 and allocate at least $5 million annually to provide a salary supplement to low-paid child care providers working with children aged birth to twelve in King County. The Pilot Project will provide supplemental payment to individual teachers and all child care staff at licensed child care centers and family home child care providers and study the impact of a salary supplement on employee retention and Continuity of Care. The successful Bidder will administer this Pilot Project.
King County seeks to partner with one organization to design and implement the Pilot Project to increase compensation for approximately 1,400 child care providers in King County. The successful Bidder will partner with King County child care providers and the County to build and promote the Pilot Project, which will accomplish the following objectives:
- Provide additional compensation for the initial 1,400 child care workers in King County
- In partnership with child care providers, evaluate the success of this Pilot Project, which includes, but is not limited to collecting data and analyzing:
- the connection between increased wages and Continuity of Care and quality of programming; and
- how the child care sector as whole is affected by this Pilot Project.
- Improve retention rates in the child care sector with a deep understanding of the emotional and physical hardships that child care workers face.
The history of child care in the United States is closely tied to the enslavement of Black women, servitude, and patriarchal concepts of “women’s work.” The current compensation structure for the early learning workforce, which offers poverty wages, few benefits, and little health coverage, is a direct result of this historical context. Center-based and family home providers struggle with narrow profit margins and the inability of home providers to afford to pay higher tuition rates that would allow for well-deserved job enhancements.
The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) Compensation Technical Workgroup’s 2019 report found that Washington’s early childhood educators rank in the third percentile of occupational wages. Additionally, 39 percent of Washington’s early childhood educators rely on one or more sources of public assistance support programs, costing $34.7 million annually and resulting in high rates of turnover that negatively impact the Continuity of Care and child outcomes. Students with degrees in early childhood education have the lowest projected earnings of all college graduates. The Compensation Technical Workgroup recommended competitive compensation comparable to K-3 educators, benefits, and access to a state-sponsored substitute pool. 
The current context of child care in King County echoes the past, including challenges to equitable access and affordability, as well as workforce compensation and support. A 2019 study found that employee child care issues resulted in an estimated annual loss statewide of $6.5 billion in direct and opportunity costs. A concurrent survey found that 49% of Washington parents found it difficult or very difficult to find, afford, or keep child care. An estimated 4,500 eligible King County children under age 5 do not have access to subsidized early learning. Meanwhile, King County’s child care workforce is more diverse than the overall population, disproportionately made up of women and people of color, as well as immigrants and refugees. Wages remain low, with providers earning near-poverty salaries. 
Complete Application Checklist:
Complete application packages will include the following:
- Responses to Summary Questions in ZoomGrants (Mandatory - unscored)
- Acknowledgement of King County Vaccine Mandate (Mandatory - unscored)
- Responses to Narrative Questions in ZoomGrants - see Attachment A (Mandatory - scored)
- Uploaded Proposed Budget - see Attachment B (Mandatory - scored)
- Uploaded Technical Requirements Assessment - see Attachment C (Mandatory - scored)
- Uploaded References (Mandatory - scored)