Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A personal note from Director Bette Hyde

The Department of Early Learning announced today that Dr. Bette Hyde will leave her position as director after six years of leading the department. Dr. Hyde will stay until August 31 to complete work in the legislative session which has a heavy early learning agenda and to provide time to find a new director.

Since taking the directorship in early 2009, Dr. Hyde has made significant strides in improving the quality and availability of early learning opportunities for the youngest Washingtonians. Under Dr Hyde’s leadership, the department developed a comprehensive 10 year early learning plan in Washington State that supported the development of ready and successful children, families, early learning professionals, schools, and communities.

One of Dr. Hyde’s proudest accomplishments is the creation and dissemination of the Early Learning and Development Guidelines, Birth Through 3rd Grade. These guidelines support families and providers in the recognition and cultivation of key developmental milestones for children from birth through 3rd grade. These guidelines are a useful tool for everyone who loves, cares for and educates young children. The guidelines also promote a whole child approach that acknowledges and honors the diversity of our state.

“We have made great progress in building a quality early learning system that is nationally recognized. While there is always more to do, I am honored by the partnerships we have established with fellow state agencies and community partners” Hyde said.

Other key accomplishments under Dr. Hyde’s leadership include: the launch of WAKids, a transition process and evaluation tool that enables a more successful start in K12 education for early learners; the development and implementation of Early Achievers, our state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System; and, the award of a $60 million Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge federal grant and a $43 million federal Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program grant.

“Under Bette’s leadership, Washington has made tremendous strides forward in improving access to high quality early learning opportunities for Washington’s families,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “I couldn’t be more proud of everything Bette has accomplished and appreciate her role in putting Washington on the map as a leader in early learning. The work of her and her team means thousands of Washington children are on the path to a brighter future.”

Prior to her directorship with the Department of Early Learning, Dr. Hyde served as superintendent of the Bremerton School District, a special education teacher, and a school psychologist, deputy superintendent for Puget Sound Educational Service District, a building principal and assistant superintendent in the Seattle, Vashon Island, and Highline school districts.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

State’s home visiting partnership receives federally funded support to explore Pay for Success model

Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. to help Department of Early Learning and Thrive Washington determine if private investors could play a key role in expanding home visiting services for young children and their families  

(OLYMPIA, WA) – The Washington state Department of Early Learning (DEL) and Thrive Washington (Thrive) will spend the next year exploring the feasibility of Pay for Success as a model to help the state greatly increase the number of children and families served through home visiting programs.

Washington was selected as part of a national competition run by Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. (Third Sector). During 2015, they will provide DEL and Thrive, along with six other awardees, federally funded technical assistance. Third Sector’s work is supported by a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund.

Pay for Success (PFS) is an innovative funding model that leverages private and public investments to scale services and ensure high-quality program performance.

DEL and Thrive were selected for their demonstrated commitment to funding high-quality, effective, evidence-based home visiting programs through the state’s Home Visiting Services Account. This account uses combinations of federal, state and private funds to provide more home visiting services to families living in some of Washington state’s most vulnerable communities; funds also support the professional development of home visitors and ensure programs get the results they promise. Home visiting programs are proven to curb abuse and neglect, support school readiness, and give children and families a great start. Since the account was created in 2010, it has grown from funding four grantees serving 120 children to 36 grantees with the capacity to serve 2,000 children statewide. In Washington state, there are currently as many as 30,000 families who are eligible for home visiting services but can’t get them.

“Home visiting is a proven and powerful tool that not only improves child outcomes but also has the power to change the trajectory for an entire family. We are deeply committed to expanding and sustaining home visiting services in our state, and we’re thrilled to work with Third Sector Capital to explore Pay for Success as a way to serve more children and families,” said Bette Hyde, director of the state Department of Early Learning.

“We’ve already developed a successful, nationally recognized public-private partnership with our state’s Home Visiting Services Account. This exciting opportunity will allow us to build on what we’ve learned and determine if a Pay for Success model is an effective strategy to help us support more families through home visiting,” said Sam Whiting, president & CEO of Thrive Washington.

DEL and Thrive’s Pay for Success work will be supported locally by the Giddens Foundation, Foundation for Healthy Generations, Philanthropy Northwest and Mission Investors Exchange.

Third Sector, a grantee of the Social Innovation Fund’s Pay for Success program, announced the selection of Washington’s home visiting system along with six other awardees (called “sub-recipients”) after a highly selective national competition. The Sub-Recipients include: Austin/Travis County, TX; Bridges Network and Orange County, CA; Commonwealth of Virginia; State of Nevada in partnership with Clark County, NV and Las Vegas, NV; State of Oregon, Marion and Multnomah counties, OR, and Friends of the Children; Washington State Department of Early Learning and Thrive Washington; and Year Up.

“We are honored to work with both DEL and Thrive to measurably improve the lives of Washington State’s youngest children and their families,” said Third Sector CEO and Co-Founder George Overholser. “Support from the Social Innovation Fund will allow Third Sector to lead a diverse cohort of governments and nonprofits in accelerating their exploration of Pay for Success in the areas of early childhood and youth development.”  

In 2014, Third Sector received $1.9 million from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), to help strengthen the pipeline of state and local governments and service providers prepared to explore and advance PFS strategies. SIF uses federal funding as a catalyst for private and public collaborations in three areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development. To deliver the technical assistance, Third Sector is partnering with Abt Associates, America Forward, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, and National Governor’s Association.

Seven PFS programs in the fields of juvenile justice, early childhood education, homelessness prevention and recidivism have been launched in the United States, including Chicago, IL; New York City, NY; Salt Lake City, UT; Cuyahoga County, OH; Massachusetts (two projects); and New York state. 

About Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc.
Third Sector is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to accelerate America’s transition to a performance-driven social sector. Third Sector is making Pay for Success a reality in the United States. Third Sector leads governments, high-performing nonprofits, and funders in building collaborative initiatives that re-write the book on how governments contract social services, by funding programs that work, saving taxpayer dollars, and measurably improving the lives of people most in need. Third Sector is a recipient of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund. Learn more at

About the Corporation for National and Community Service
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit

About the Washington state Department of Early Learning
The Department of Early Learning (DEL) helps all Washington children reach their full potential and start kindergarten ready to learn and succeed. DEL oversees the state-funded preschool program, child care licensing and subsidies, early intervention services, and other initiatives and programs to support parents as children’s first and most important teachers.

About Thrive Washington

Thrive Washington is a leader in unifying and strengthening the state’s early learning system, so that all children are ready for school. Thrive rallies providers, funders and communities to improve services for children and families, especially those most in need. As a public-private partnership, it leverages state, federal and private dollars and helps ensure those funds are spent on the early learning programs and experiences that will make the biggest difference for Washington state’s youngest children and their families.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Gov. Inslee: Early learning is the best investment we can make in our future.

"Our most fundamental commitment needs to be to the very youngest Washingtonians. We know the greatest untapped asset in the state is the potential of a 3- and 4-year-old. The latest neuroscience research at the University of Washington shows that at this age, children’s minds have a tremendous capacity for learning.  Early learning is the best investment we can make in our future.”
- Governor Jay Inslee, 2015 State of the State address, delivered January 13, 2015

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Washington submits ambitious application for federal preschool funding

Our state has submitted a bold plan to dramatically expand high-quality preschool options in high-need communities around the state, and enhance the quality of existing state preschool slots.

Washington is eligible for up to $70 million over four years through the U.S. departments of Education and Health & Human Services as part of their preschool development grants. Washington has applied for an expansion grant to reach and serve additional eligible preschool children in high-need communities.

Since 1985, Washington has been operating the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), the state-funded comprehensive preschool program for eligible 3- and 4-year-olds. ECEAP ranks high on many quality elements, but most ECEAP slots are currently only part-day, and limited funding makes ECEAP available for only some eligible children.

The federal grant funding would offer Washington the opportunity to implement all the components of high-quality preschool named in the grant (see DEL's grant application summary for more details), and more than double the number of eligible children receiving high-quality preschool by 2019.

Despite a short six-week application window, DEL engaged in extensive outreach to inform the application, including:

  • Webinars and a web page with information about the application process
  • Individual conversations with key legislative leaders
  • Meetings with early learning stakeholders and advocates
  • Conversation with the state Early Learning Advisory Council
  • An application review process that included readers from more than a dozen partner organizations include the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Child Care Aware of Washington, Thrive by Five Washington, the Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP, and several current ECEAP contractors. 
It is expected that successful applicants will be notified in December 2014.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

DEL's updated strategic plan now online

DEL's updated strategic plan is now available online:

The strategic plan indicates our clear focus on offering high-quality early learning programs and services, prioritizing the most vulnerable children and families in our state. 

DEL vision: Children in Washington start kindergarten healthy, capable, and confident in their ability to learn and succeed.
DEL mission: DEL offers voluntary, comprehensive, high-quality early learning programs and support to families and early learning professionals.
Our four strategic goals:
  • Provide voluntary, high-quality early learning opportunities for children and families in Washington
  • Support all early learning professionals with research-based professional development and resources to ensure high-quality early learning opportunities
  • Build public awareness of and support for high-quality early learning opportunities
  • Promote system excellence by ensuring DEL is well-managed and supportive of its employees

The goals and activities in the plan are cross-walked with  Gov. Jay Inslee’s Results Washington initiative, as well as our state’s Early Learning Plan, so that we are working toward one purpose.

A lot has changed for early learning in Washington since we at DEL last updated our strategic plan in 2011! Here are just a few significant changes in our agency since then:

If you have questions or comments about the DEL strategic plan, please email

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

ECEAP Outcomes Report

The Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) is Washington’s pre-kindergarten program that prepares 3- and 4-year-old children from low-income families for success in school and in life. The Depart­ment of Early Learning (DEL) oversees the program.

Since 1985, ECEAP has focused on the well-being of the whole child by providing comprehensive nutrition, health, education and family support services to Washington’s most at-risk children. ECEAP reaches the children most in need of these foundations for learning. The program is aligned with nationally researched programs that have shown exceptional returns on investment.

Each fall, DEL releases an ECEAP Outcomes Report to the public. It summarizes developmental, pre-academic, and health gains made by ECEAP children in the previous school year. The 2013-14 report is now available at:

 Highlights from the 2013-14 ECEAP Outcomes Report include:
·         We served the largest number of children ever – 8,741 slots.
o   With 12.2% turnover, there were 9,810 children enrolled at some time during the year.
o   29,128 ECEAP eligible children in Washington were not served by either ECEAP or Head Start. 
·         35% of ECEAP children speak a home language other than English.
o   There was an increase in children whose home language was neither English or Spanish, from 5% to 7% of enrollments. 
·         49% of ECEAP lead teachers have bachelor’s degrees or higher.  40% have associate degrees.
·         Risk factors
o   65% of children were from families at or below 80% of the poverty level.
§  FPL was $23,550 for a family of four.
o   32% of children had a parent who did not graduate high school
§  12% of children had a parent with 6th grade or less.

 ·         At enrollment 49% of children were up-to-date with well-child exams.  At exit, 94% were up-to-date.
·         At enrollment 72% of children were up-to-date with immunizations.  At exit, 99% were up-to-date.

·         At enrollment 27% of children were up-to-date with dental screening.  At exit, 95% were up-to-date.

·         Summary of Development and Learning Gains:

For 2013-14, DEL collected GOLD® assessment results for approximately 7,000 ECEAP children who had ratings in both fall and spring of the school year. The children made progress in all domains.
The following percentages of children moved from below age level to at or above age level during their time in ECEAP.
o   Social-emotional development – 48%
o   Physical development – 45%
o   Language development – 42%
o   Cognitive development – 48%
o   Literacy development - 50%
o   Mathematics - 59%


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Washington prepares application for federal preschool grant

Washington is eligible for up to $70 million in new federal preschool funding, which would allow our state to both serve more children and improve the quality of our preschool program.

The Preschool Development Grants opportunity was announced on Aug. 13. Applications are due by Oct. 14. Washington is currently drafting our application, and conducting outreach with key stakeholders to help inform it. 

A key focus of the application will be helping our state infuse some of the essential quality elements into state-funded pre-k:

  • Full school day programs (at least 5 hours)
  • Highly trained and supported teachers with professional qualifications and compensation
  • Evidence-based curriculum
  • Access to comprehensive services (health, nutrition, family support)
  • Rich learning environments and adult-child interactions
Find out more about the grant, and how you can be involved, at