Thursday, July 21, 2016

Eleven Community-based Organizations Receive Federal Funding

Eleven programs were awarded funding from the Community Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) federal funding source for the 2016/2017 fiscal year.
“This year’s recipients serve hundreds of Washington families,” said Greg Williamson, Assistant Director at the Washington State Department of Early Learning. “These community organizations ensure that families have the social and emotional tools they need to keep their children healthy and safe.”
Each grantee organization offers services to support some, if not all, of Strengthening Families Protective Factor Framework:

·         Knowledge of parenting and child development,
·         Social connections,
·         Parental resiliency,
·         Concrete support in times of need and
·         Social and emotional competence of children/nurturing and attachment.

The programs awarded serve low income families, provide educational support services, match children with special needs to services, aid homeless families, promote prevention of child maltreatment and more.

This year’s recipients include:
·         Parent Trust for Washington Children, King County*
·         Ukrainian Community Center of Washington, King County*
·         Families Together for People with Disabilities, Whitman County*
·         American Indian Community Center, Spokane*
·         First Step Family Support Center, Clallam County
·         Housing Hope, Snohomish County
·         South Sound Parent to Parent, Thurston County
·         Perinatal Support of Washington, King, Grays Harbor, Pierce and Yakima Counties
·         San Juan Island Family Resource Center, San Juan County

*Denotes first-year program grantee.

For more information on CBCAP and grantees, visit Strengthening Families Washington, or see go here: 2016/2017 Grantees

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

DEL's Early Achievers Validation Study Results are In!

Conducted by the University of Washington in partnership with DEL, the purpose of the Early Achievers Standards Validation Study was to examine how Early Achievers’ quality standards are related to outcomes for children, and to help inform potential adjustments to the Early Achievers quality rating and improvement system. 

More about the study:
·        Only a handful of states have attempted this kind of evaluation. Washington is once again leading the nation!
·        The sample size is  approximately 100 sites and 761 children ages 8 months to 71 months.
·        Data for this evaluation were collected in 2014 and 2015.

·         Children from low income households start out, on average, performing lower than those in higher income families.

·         Infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children make greater gains in sites with higher-level Early Achievers ratings than in sites with lower ratings across a range of outcomes, including language and fine motor development, even after controlling for other factors that influence educational achievement.
·         Specific components of Early Achievers scoring show that we’re on the right track.
o   Measures of instructional support, classroom organization, and emotional support are associated with gains in language, early math, and early writing among pre-school children.
o   Measures of supportive learning environment are associated with gains in skills needed for language, cognitive, and social-emotional development among infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children.
·         A majority of teachers and directors participating in the evaluation reported being satisfied/very satisfied with the Early Achievers rating process, and most reported positive changes in program practices since enrollment in Early Achievers.

Recommendations for the future:
  • More professional development opportunities should be available, including professional development in supporting dual language learners, positive behavior supports (reduce expulsion) and support for provider well-being.
  • Continue to and increase support for implementation of research-based curricula including training and coaching to fidelity.
  • Environmental Rating Scale—improve the scoring system so that providers receive points for all eligible elements of quality.
  • Consider ways to streamline data collection and data entry in the Early Achievers rating process. Provide ongoing evaluation of Early Achievers and quality standards related to child outcomes.
You can find the entire study here: Early Achievers Standards Validation Study, and the Executive Summary here: Early Achievers Standards Validation Study Executive Summary.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Important New Early Learning System Rules

On Friday, July 1, 2016, the Department of Early Learning published a suite of “emergency” rules in order to implement components of the Early Start Act. The State calls these “emergency” rules because we weren’t able to go through our normal public process period prior to the ESA-mandated deadline of July 1, 2016. We’re using this administrative procedure to ensure families and children get access to the quality care and supports they need. These rules will only be in effect for 120 days.

What’s in these new rules? They address eligibility for state funded child care and support for families transitioning to self-sustainability. They also increase supports for providers with quality improvement awards, professional development, and increased reimbursement rates.

Our normal rule filing process was truncated due to two over-extended legislative sessions and a larger-than-average number of new rules to process. While not ideal, we were able to consult with stakeholders in advance of today’s filing, and will launch our normal public process on these same rules next week. After gathering feedback from the community we will be able to make changes, if necessary, to these rules without interrupting service for children. See below for the upcoming rule-making schedule.
  • July 6, 2016: DEL files proposed permanent rules (they will be found here).
  • July 20 – August 10, 2016: proposed rules are open for public comment.
  • August 9 & 10, 2016: DEL hosts public hearings on proposed rules.
With implementation of these new rules, DEL is continuing to build and support a high quality early learning system in Washington that will ensure all kids are ready for kindergarten.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

DEL Welcomes Kids to Work

The Department of Early Learning has celebrated the Governor-proclaimed Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day in a big way the past couple years. The agency has welcomed children of all ages, in service of DEL's mission and goals to promote high-quality early learning and to  build awareness and support for early learning opportunities!

This year, the event was held in two DEL locations: Olympia and Spokane, with the common goal to educate our staff's children about the important work done in Washington State early learning (and to have a little fun in the process). Over 60 kids came to DEL Olympia and Spokane!

Highlighted activities include:

  • Capital tour (Olympia)
  • Art huddles - in which children created art to decorate their parent's building with the DEL "handprint" theme.
  • STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lessons with the help of BLOCK fest (Olympia) and the Spokane County Library (Spokane). 
  • Active play with an obstacle course courtesy of Healthiest Next Generation coordinator, Adrienne Dorf (Olympia) and post-lunch outdoor games (Spokane), and
  • Healthy, make-your-own snacks at both locations.
Check out the short video commemorating the day, go to our YouTube channel here:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Professional Development: A Cornerstone of High-Quality Programs & Outcomes for Children

Levels of education among early learning professionals in Washington, and around the country, vary significantly. Research is clear that children who attend high-quality early learning programs are more likely to be ready for Kindergarten and perform successfully in school and beyond. We know that the quality of any early childhood education program depends significantly on the qualifications of its teachers. 

Several studies on teacher preparation indicate the importance of a highly-skilled and trained workforce when it comes to positive child outcomes:

· “The professional development of practitioners is universally recognized in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) as a key ingredient to improving the quality of early care and education. Research also shows that qualified and well-compensated care providers and teachers are the cornerstone of high-quality early childhood programs.”[1]

· “Well-educated teachers with specialized training in early childhood education have the knowledge and skills to positively impact child outcomes. Research shows that the most effective preschool teachers have a four-year degree with specialized training in teaching young children.”[2]

· “Preparation programs, training, mentoring and coaching, and in-service professional development are all critical direct mechanisms for developing and sustaining the knowledge and competencies of professionals.”[3]
DEL staff and state partners at the National Academy of Medicine state convening in early May. Washington State Department of Early Learning, Thrive Washington, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Child Care Aware, Head Start Collaboration Office, Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Council and Higher Education Partners.
State and national momentum is increasing to support policy change to address low wages, accessibility of professional development and highlighting the connection between teacher preparation and child outcomes. The Department of Early Learning is working alongside state and national partners in state planning efforts and national learning tables. A recent workforce survey went out to early learning programs all around the state to learn more about experiences related to educator hiring and retention.  Stay tuned for the results of that survey and more information about our state’s work to support the early learning workforce.

[1] Building an Early Childhood Professional Development System (2010) NGA Center For Best Practice Issue Brief Full Report

[2] J. Coffman and M.E. Lopez, “Raising Preschool Teacher Qualifications,” Montclair and New York: The Schumann Fund for New Jersey and The Trust for Early Education, 2003).Full Report

[3] Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC). 2015. Transforming the workforce for children birth through age 8: A unifying foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Full report

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Early Achievers Offers Quality Improvement Awards

Beginning July 1, 2016, the Early Achievers Quality Improvement Awards policy will change to reflect requirements outlined in the Early Start Act of 2015.Under the new guidelines, these awards will offer recognition and support to qualifying facilities that serve families receiving state child care subsidy.

To be eligible for these awards, participants must:
  • Serve an enrollment population of which at least 5% of total licensed capacity consists of non-school-age children receiving state subsidy.* 
  • Be an active Early Achievers participant with a rating of Level 3 or higher (family home providers may qualify at a Level 2). 
  • Register as a vendor of Washington State by submitting the Statewide Payee Registration form and W-9 to the Department of Early Learning. Registration should be completed in the facility name, as funds will not be awarded to individuals. All facilities must submit their payee registration and W-9 prior to receiving a monetary award. 

Quality Improvement Awards will be distributed approximately 90 days after the facility’s rating release date. 

Those who qualify will be eligible for the new Quality Improvement Award amounts, as follows:

Family Home Child Care QI Awards:

  • Level 2 - $1000 
  • Level 3 - $2250 
  • Level 4 - $2500 
  • Level 5 - $2750 
Child Care Center QI Awards:
  • Level 3 - $5000 
  • Level 4 - $7500 
  • Level 5 - $9000 
More information about the awards and how to qualify can be found in Early Achievers Quality Improvement Awards--Frequently Asked Questions document on the DEL website.

*The Department of Early Learning (DEL) calculates the percentage of children receiving subsidies by adding the number of non-school-age children on subsidy served each month for the 12 months preceding the rating release date. The total will be divided by the number of months children were present in the facility to determine the average number of children on subsidy served per month. This average will then be divided by the total licensed capacity of the provider to receive the final percentage of children on subsidy served. Invoices should be submitted promptly to ensure an accurate calculation. See more information here: Early Achievers Quality Improvement Awards--Frequently Asked Questions.

For questions regarding Early Achievers, contact

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Early Learning Center Bounces Back after Disaster

This past winter, at a well-known child care center in Vancouver, a disaster happened. A larger portion of KIDSPACE child enrichment center’s roof caught fire and quickly spread to a large part of KIDSPACE’s gymnasium and classroom area. Check out the original report from The Columbian here: Fire empties day care center near Vancouver Mall

“The smoke just started billowing and getting bigger,” said KIDSPACE Director, Kathy Stanley. “The kids evacuated with no shoes, because that is what they learned—take nothing with.” 

KIDSPACE staff and children followed their emergency preparedness plan, and were in compliance with the State’s licensed child care emergency preparedness requirements.
Kathy Stanley, KIDSPACE Director thanks community and friends for support in unfinished gymnasium. Stanley is standing in front of a scrap-book board/collage of important lessons learned and milestones achieved following the fire.
Due in part to the responsiveness of the Vancouver fire department, the willingness of nearby businesses to shelter children and fast-acting KIDSPACE staff, not one person was hurt.

“When I got the call that this fire had happened, I wasn’t expecting that the biggest problem would be that a bunch of 3- and 4-year-olds were excited about seeing fire engines,” said DEL Director, Ross Hunter. Hunter and DEL administration were notified of the fire, and the successful evacuation the same day it took place.

DEL Director, Ross Hunter and KIDSPACE Director, Kathy Stanley
To celebrate KIDSPACE’s resilience and “grace under fire,” the Department of Early Learning spent time at the center this past week. Hunter and area licensing staff toured the facility, and learned from the children about fire safety, demolition, architecture and the science behind fire.

Following the emergency, KIDSPACE staff brainstormed how to create an entire unit and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities to accompany their lessons. A friend to the Center also created a large-scale scrap-book wall to showcase the activities and the timeline of the center’s recovery following the emergency. 

“The damage done to this place, it looks like a disaster,” said Hunter. Currently, KIDSPACE’s gym is under construction to repair the damage done by the fire. “The real disaster would be if any one of those children were hurt. But they weren’t. And that’s because this center had their stuff together. Thank you for running a high-quality early learning program and for letting us learn about what you do here.”

DEL Director, Ross Hunter learns about circuitry from KIDSPACE kids.
KIDSPACE is still undergoing renovation, but was able to open at full-capacity about a month following the fire.

Want to know more about some of the cool things happening at KIDSPACE? Follow them on Facebook here: KIDSPACE Child Enrichment Center.