Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New Paid Sick Leave Law takes effect January 1

Dear Child Care Providers,

As you may know, the state of Washington has a new Paid Sick Leave Law, which was approved by voters in 2016 as part of the initiative that raised the minimum wage. This new law takes effect on January 1, 2018.

If you are an employer, you will be required to make sure your record keeping systems are ready to track and allow your employees to use sick leave. You also need to make sure your employees know about the new changes. If you are an employer and want more information on the new Paid Sick Leave Law, you can:
  • Register for an employer webinar through the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries here.
  • Read more employer information on the law here.

If you are an employee, you may be entitled to paid sick leave beginning January 1, 2018. Most employees will accrue paid sick leave at a minimum rate of 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Both full-time and part-time workers are entitled to sick leave. If you are an employee and want more information on the new Paid Sick Leave Law, you can:
  • Read more about your rights under the new Paid Sick Leave Law here (español).
  • Read an overview of all your rights as a worker here.

If you have questions about the new law, please contact the Department of Labor & Industries at (866) 219-7321 or esgeneral@lni.wa.gov.

Heather Moss
Department of Early Learning

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Indian Policy Early Learning members discuss upcoming transition, DEL programs

The Indian Policy Early Learning (IPEL) advisory group met for their most recent meeting on November 16, 2017 to provide input on upcoming changes to early learning in Washington. The meeting, hosted by the Squaxin Island Tribe at the Little Creek Casino and Resort, was attended by representatives from 23 of Washington’s 29 federally recognized tribes and 16 elected tribal leaders.

The meeting began with a joint discussion with the Department of Social and Health Services’ (DSHS) Indian Policy Advisory Committee (IPAC) about future changes at DEL. Notably, the two committees discussed the transition to the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), which DEL will join next summer. Children’s Administration, which is currently a part of DSHS, will also become part of the new department.

DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter engaged with IPAC and IPEL members in a discussion about how DCYF and Washington’s tribes will work together moving forward. Secretary Hunter acknowledged that government policies have had a disproportionate and negative impact on children of color, and particularly tribal children.

“We can’t do this without partnerships with the tribes,” he said of the transition.

Tribal representatives expressed a hope to see a deeper understanding from DCYF of what tribal sovereignty is and how tribal governments function. Some also sought stronger government-to-government relations, in part through the hiring of staff members at DCYF who understand and have empathy for tribal communities and children.

With the new DCYF, “we have an opportunity to create a durable working relationship” with the tribes, Secretary Hunter said.

After the joint DCYF discussion, IPEL members remained to conduct their regular meeting. They heard updates from several DEL programs and offered input on proposals from DEL staff. Some of these programs seek to work collaboratively with tribal nations through the hiring of people to work specifically with tribal communities.

Washington’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), which offers free early learning programs to low-income families across the state, hopes to expand access to the program to more tribal communities. Currently, ECEAP serves 225 tribal children in 8 programs. Through the creation of an IPEL workgroup, DEL hopes to build an ECEAP program that works for more tribal families.

The tribes’ input was also sought on how to do consultation for an upcoming deadline for the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), a federal and state partnership program that funds child care programs for low-income families.

The next IPEL meeting has not been scheduled but will take place in early 2018. To keep up to date on IPEL activities, visit DEL’s Tribal Nations webpage. Contact DEL Tribal Liaison Tleena Ives at tleena.ives@del.wa.gov to be added to the IPEL e-mail list.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

How DEL manages and maintains records

Lately, there have been a number of records issues in both the state and national news. Elected and appointed officials have received attention for everything from failing to disclose records to poor records management policies and procedures.

The Department of Early Learning takes document management very seriously and works hard to ensure that our records are well maintained. There are a number of ways to make sure that our records are kept in a manner consistent with the guidelines set forth in RCW 40.14. The office of the Secretary of State gives state and local agencies guidelines on proper record keeping as well.

There are two ways in which records are classified: the first way is through the State Government Records Retention Schedule – Version 6.0, which classifies a number of commonly used records that span throughout the entire state government. The second is through agency-specific retention schedules. Depending on the type of record, DEL maintains records for between 6 months and 25 years before destroying them. Records Retention Schedules for the State of Washington are held on the Washington Secretary of State website

One way records are maintained by the state is the State Records Center, which is operated of the Office of the Secretary of State. To find more information on the State Records Center please visit the Secretary of State's website

Another way the agencies’ records are kept is via in-house file cabinets and internal electronic records management systems. We are currently undergoing a large records management project in which we are working to move as many records to the State Records Center as is possible. This is in anticipation of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) merger between DEL and certain offices of DSHS per HB 1661.

In the upcoming months, DEL will work with our counterparts at DSHS to ensure that all records and retention schedules are seamlessly merged and transferred over to the new DCYF on July 1, 2018. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

DEL seeks Early Adopters for new attendance system!

Español | Soomali

Hey subsidy providers: we have a great opportunity for you to voice your opinions and help other providers in your community! The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is seeking 200 child care providers to test out and provide feedback on our new electronic attendance system!

These “Early Adopters” will be able to try out the system before next spring, when it will be rolled out to all subsidy providers who don’t already have electronic attendance systems. Early Adopters will receive an orientation on the system and test it out in their own care settings. Then, they will provide their feedback on the system.

DEL will use this feedback from the Early Adopters to improve the system and adjust the orientation to better accommodate all providers, including those who have limited technological expertise.

Washington’s electronic attendance system was created because the federal government is requiring that we improve our attendance recordkeeping for child care subsidies. This new system will not only meet that requirement, but will save providers time, cost taxpayers less, and reduce attendance inaccuracies.

The new system is a simple, easy-to-use software program that works on an electronic device such as a tablet, smartphone, or computer.

Why should I volunteer to be an Early Adopter?
There are several benefits to becoming an Early Adopter of the electronic attendance system. Early Adopters will:
  • Be among the first to try out this new system, which will soon be deployed in child care centers and family homes, and to Family, Friends, and Neighbors (FFN) providers across the state;
  • Be able to make the orientation and the system better for other providers in their communities;
  • Receive monetary compensation for the time they spend participating in the orientation and testing this new electronic attendance system; and
  • Be fluent in system use by the time mandatory use is required in July 2018 for providers accepting subsidy families. 

What would I need to do as an Early Adopter?
Electronic attendance system Early Adopters are required to:
  • Fill out an initial survey to indicate their interest in being an Early Adopter;
  • Participate in the orientation for the new electronic attendance system;
  • Use the system where they provide care for one week; and
  • Complete a feedback survey about their experience with the orientation and another about using the system.
We anticipate that Early Adopters will need to spend no more than five hours outside of working hours participating in the orientation, setting up the system, and providing feedback.

Who can become an Early Adopter?
DEL is looking for a wide range of childcare providers to test out the system. We want to represent child care providers across the state, including rural and urban providers; child care centers, family home providers, and FFN providers; and providers who speak languages other than English. Because we are looking for a representative group of Early Adopters, not all those who volunteer will be chosen to participate.

If you are interested in becoming an Early Adopter of the electronic attendance system, complete this online form by December 15. Early Adopter applicants will be notified as to whether they have been chosen by January 1, 2018.

For more information on the electronic attendance system, including a complete timeline of the system’s roll-out, visit the Attendance Project website. If you have questions about the electronic attendance system or the Early Adopters phase of the project, e-mail the Department of Early Learning at communications@del.wa.gov or call (360) 725-4430.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Five Children's Books to Support Healthy Families

The research and information about ACES – Adverse Childhood Experiences – is critical in helping us better support children and families who have experienced trauma. But it’s even more critical to focus on what individuals and communities can actually do to help alleviate the negative effects of ACES. In Pierce County, our early learning coalition, Project Child Success, is using the Five Protective Factors as a framework for our efforts.

The Five Protective Factors are the foundation of the Strengthening Families Approach:
  1. Parental resilience
  2. Social connections
  3. Concrete support in times of need
  4. Knowledge of parenting and child development
  5. Social and emotional competence of children.
Research studies show that when these Protective Factors are well established in a family, the likelihood of child abuse and neglect diminishes. They also build on a family’s strengths and place hardship in context.

We can support the protective factors in our communities and workplaces in large and small ways. One of the small ways the library is supporting them is using picture books to highlight each factor. Here are just a few to illustrate this idea:

Parental Resilience
Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley
Buckley misses his Papa and each day gathers driftwood to make a boat, attaching a note to it and sending it adrift to wherever Papa is now. Bagley effectively uses an animal family in this beautiful story of grief, resilience, and love.

Social Connections
Grandma’s Tiny House: A Counting Story by JaNay Brown-Wood
There are so many wonderful things about this book! It counts beyond 10, is filled with joy and connection, and a child is the one to solve the problem. Celebrating friends and family gatherings is a wonderful way to highlight the importance of social connections.

Concrete Support in Times of Need
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
Every Sunday, CJ and his Nana ride the bus to the same place. CJ complains, but Nana always seems to have a loving way to respond. This lovely book (A Newbury winner!) promotes a place that offers concrete support in times of need. But CJ’s Nana’s approach to life does the same.

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee
This hilarious book illustrates all the exhaustion, efforts, and love that is required of all new parents. A must read for every new parent.

Social Emotional Competence of Children
Wild Feelings by David Milgrim
This funny book features many similes that English speakers use to describe feelings. It also delivers a comforting message about big feelings (with many laughs along the way).

Picture books are a creative way to approach difficult feelings, events, and challenges. They are one small way to promote the protective factors and offer gentle support for families. Your local librarian can help you find more wonderful books that your children and families will love.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Compensation Technical Workgroup Needs You! (UPDATED)

UPDATE: The deadline for applications to the Compensation Technical Workgroup has been extended to November 27 at 12 p.m. Download the application here: https://del.wa.gov/sites/default/files/public/ProfessionalDevelopment/Workgroup_Application.docx.

The Department of Early Learning is looking for members from Washington’s early learning community to serve on the Compensation Technical Workgroup. Workgroup members will inform strategies to increase childcare workforce wages and retention rates.

The Compensation Workgroup will be led by DEL and will include 13 representatives from state and federal agencies and the early learning community. Learn about the current progress on compensation efforts for early learning professionals and the scope and structure of the Compensation Technical Workgroup here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5p-azii59c.

Apply to become a member!

DEL is now accepting workgroup member applications from various community organizations that have seats on the Compensation Workgroup. If you are interested, submit your application and select the community group you represent:
  • A coalition of organizations representing nonprofits, professional associations, businesses, and industries in early learning
  • A representative from an Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP)
  • A representative from a nonprofit child care center
  • A representative from a private child care center
  • A representative from an organization that provides culturally responsive services for early learning programs in communities with high numbers of families whose primary language is not English
For information about member responsibilities and application instructions, download the member application at https://del.wa.gov/sites/default/files/public/ProfessionalDevelopment/Workgroup_Application.docx. In order to be considered, applications must be completed and sent in by November 10, 2017.

For more information about the Compensation Technical Workgroup, visit www.del.wa.gov/compensationworkgroup

Monday, October 30, 2017

8 Stay-Safe Tips for Trick-or-Treating with Young Kids

Halloween is a night full of treats, tricks, and lots of fun for those who participate – as long as you play it safe. Dimly lit streets and costume mishaps can turn a delightful night into a potentially dangerous situation. Here are some important steps that parents and caregivers can take to protect their little pirates and princesses on All Hallows’ Eve.

Wear reflective clothing or bright costumes.
Even if you plan on heading out before dark, overcast autumn skies can make it difficult for drivers to see you on the sidewalks. Choose brightly colored costumes or attach reflective strips or accessories to you and your child. Bring along a flashlight in case you’re out later than expected.

Use non-toxic makeup and remove it before bed.
Make sure the makeup you choose is non-toxic and kid-friendly. If you’re planning on covering your child’s face, test it out on your child’s skin a day or two beforehand. Watch out for any redness or itchiness, because this may be a sign of an allergy. Make sure to remove all makeup before bed to prevent skin irritation.

Choose safe costumes and props.
Go for fire-resistant wigs and comfortable shoes. Tie shoelaces tightly to avoid tripping, and skip full-face masks – these can block your child’s vision and interfere with breathing. When choosing props, opt for flexible swords, wands, and other accessories.

Plan a safe route.
Choose a route in advance that has lots of lighting and sidewalks or wide shoulders. This way you’ll be able to be aware of your surroundings and away from busy traffic.

Always accompany young children.
Do not let your young children trick-or-treat on their own. Plan on walking with them or sending them out with another trusted adult. If you have older kids who are going out unsupervised, make sure you know their route and discuss safety in advance.

Practice street safety.
Remind young kids to hold your hand before crossing the street and use crosswalks when they are available. Keep your eyes on the road and not on your phone. If you plan on snapping shots of your kids in costume, stay alert and do so in a safe place away from the street.

Avoid unwrapped treats.
Before letting your kids dig in, check candy packaging to make sure it’s secure. Toss any candy without wrappers or with torn packaging.

Limit candy consumption.
With a bucket full of candy, it’s easy for kids to overdo it. Limit your child’s consumption to avoid an upset stomach later.