Child care was already dysfunctional. COVID-19 could break it completely


As Washington state pushes through the pandemic, a shortage of child care options forces parents and providers to make difficult choices.

By Melissa Santos/

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

First, COVID-19 closed the in-home day care where Patty Liu sent her preschool-age children. Then, two weeks later, she was laid off from her job.

Quickly, Liu realized going back to work would be harder than she thought. But the South Seattle resident’s biggest worry wasn’t finding a new job in a bad economy. It was finding child care.

“I was thinking, I can’t find work until I can get these kids back into some sort of child care or school,” said Liu, 37, who had been working at an environmental consulting firm. “I was absolutely overwhelmed by the child care problem — I did not see any way to look for a job.”

Liu’s child care facility is among the many that…

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