Protecting Childcare Workers from Harrassment and Intimidation

Agents of the state and federal governments - acting on incorrect information that childcare workers were charging for children they did not care for – entered many Latina child care workers’ homes in the town of Mattawa when children were present and impounded original records on the spot even though the workers should have been given time to produce the records. The agents inappropriately interrogated and intimidated the workers and served administrative agency documents on the providers that were not translated into Spanish, the providers’ primary language. The agents stated the documents were “court orders” and used them to immediately seize original records from the providers as if the documents were warrants signed by a judge, which they were not. The State then claimed the records showed many charges for children not cared for. Through our work (and the work of others) on behalf of the childcare workers, the State eventually withdrew claims of fraud. The workers, some represented by CLS and some by a Seattle law firm, sought and won compensation through a civil rights suit in federal court. This advocacy also resulted in changes to the State’s investigative system.