Hundreds protest proposed cut in child care for working poor

Hundreds protest proposed cut in child care for working poor
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A rally at the state Capitol came with a warning on Wednesday.

Protestors say cutting child care for the working poor will increase welfare costs.

The current legislative session is supposed to end on Thursday, and supporters of child care for the working poor thought they had nothing to worry about.

Then came the surprise, the shocker: three Democrats joined Senate Republicans and adopted the budget with cuts in child care affecting some 4,000 families.

A few hundred people gathered for the hastily-called rally. Their message: these cuts will hurt kids and put families on welfare.

"I'm not asking (for people) to give, give, give me," said Jamie DeVries, a single mother from Kelso. "I'm just asking for help to put my children in a stable environment so I can work and provide for my family. I don't want to be on welfare; I want to work."

DeVries has two children. Some who attended Wednesday's rally have more.

Here's the problem: daycare is expensive. More kids mean daycare is even more expensive.

Goretti Kittelson went back to school and got a BA in criminal justice. She's got four children. Without state help, daycare will cost all but $200 of her monthly salary. She may have to quit and go on welfare.

"I am very independent, and I've been doing it with my four children. And to have to take that step back would be horrible," said Kittelson.

Bianca Bailey, who came to Olympia from Ellensburg, says this is all about her three children and families across the state:

"Allowing me to work means I can provide for my family and work toward self-sufficiency," she said.

Could this rally make a difference? It's anyone's guess. But the budget process is running on idle. It's running so slowly that the governor asked Legislative leaders to take over the budget process and come up with an answer now:

"The minute I say special session, they'll go to sleep. They'll stop working. The public expects more. The public expects them to work every last minute to get the job done," said Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The governor says she still hopes for a budget compromise by the end of Thursday. She anticipates some additional cuts. Whether that means the child care subsidy is on the line is an open question, and only budget negotiators know the answer.