Commissioner Franz Hails Legislature for Advancing Bill to Create New Land Trust to Fund Child Care
News Date: 
January 31, 2024

Bill to dedicate Climate Commitment Act funds to acquire land to fund Washington’s child care centers passes out of committee

A bill to create a new land trust to fund child care in Washington took another step forward today, passing the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan support today.
House Bill 2243, requested by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and sponsored by Rep. Kristine Reeves of Federal Way create a Child Care Land Trust to create permanent revenue for child care in Washington while protecting working forests at the risk of conversion to strip malls and other developments.
“I’m thrilled to have bi-partisan support for this critical bill – finding accessible and affordable child care has become so hard for parents today. This legislation is a unique opportunity to fund child care while protecting working forests across the state,” said Commissioner Franz. “This is bold legislation that will make Washington a leader by funding our child care network, and it will be paid for by our largest polluters. It’s a win-win-win for our forests, our communities, and our children.”
Using funding from the Climate Commitment Act, the legislation would authorize the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to purchase working forests at risk of being developed to manage similarly to the 2.1 million acres of working forests the agency currently manages to fund public schools, libraries, fire departments, and other local government services.
““Parents are facing unprecedented costs, childcare being one of the highest, while we do the work to protect our natural resources for our children’s future,” said Representative Reeves. “This new land trust proposes we can both save the planet and put working families first in our public policy!”
Trusts have Served Washington’s Children Since 1889
DNR would acquire and manage land with Climate Commitment Act funding, and sustainably manage that land for uses such as commercial forestry, renewable energy projects, and carbon sequestration credits for reforestation to provide permanent funding for childcare Washington State.
Since Washington’s founding, working forests and farmlands have produced critical funding for education. The trust lands currently managed by DNR generate more than $300 million per year.
An accompanying $100 million from the Natural Climate Solutions Account, part of the Climate Commitment Act, would allow DNR to purchase new lands for the trust. DNR’s Children’s Social Equity Land Trust would creatively meet multiple statewide goals:
  • Conserve working forestlands at risk of conversion
  • Provide greater economic development opportunities for families and reduce or end cycles of poverty in communities with economic disparity
  • Sequester carbon and limit the harmful impacts of global climate change
  • Establish a stable funding source for creating or expanding child care.
Funding for Unfunded Child Care Deserts
The new trust would direct revenue to the Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families, which oversees the Childcare Desert Grant Program.
Child care deserts are often found in communities that struggle with health and economic disparities. Lack of access to affordable childcare perpetuates cycles of poverty and inequities.
In 2019, the Washington State Childcare Collaborative Task Force found in their report that 49% of parents in the state found it complicated or very difficult to find, afford, and keep care for their children. Lack of childcare was projected to cost the state $2.1 billion due to employee turnover and missed work and $6.5 billion in direct and opportunity costs.
The new trust is also intended to reverse the trend of closing childcare providers and facilities. Since 2010, some 2,000 family childcare providers and 300 centers closed across Washington, contributing to an increase in these deserts statewide.
Michael Kelly
Communications Director
Cell: 360-878-4217