Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Washington Enlists Video Coaching to Support Nurturing and Development

Washington State has been utilizing a new and unique way to support healthy brain development of young children and positive relationships between children and their caregivers. It’s a video coaching program that uses the concept of serve and return interactions, called Filming Interactions to Nurture Development (FIND). Dr. Phil Fisher and his colleagues at the University of Oregon developed the FIND model to support interactions between one caregiver and one child.  The FIND development team at the University of Oregon, the Washington State Department of Early Learning and Children’s Home Society of Washington, have co-created a model of FIND for use in early childhood settings.

FIND was developed as part of the Frontiers of Innovation at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, and is an example of putting researchers and practitioners together to advance science-based innovations that can be expanded to serve more young children and families.

What is FIND?
Coaches trained in FIND film interactions between the child and their caregiver for 10 minutes as they engage in everyday activities such as playing a game or having a snack. Films are edited into short clips by a team at CHSW. After editing, a FIND coach shows the caregiver the video of positive interactions with a child. Coaches emphasize the caregivers’ strengths and understanding of how engaging positively with the child promotes positive brain development.

Expanding FIND around the state
In 2013, FIND was implemented in a licensed family child care home in Richland, Washington called “Hope for the Future Childcare.” This small-scale road test demonstrated the feasibility and utility of implementing FIND in the context of child care.

Targeted FIND coaching for infant-toddler caregivers was conducted in a larger pilot in 2015 with 16 child care providers in one region of the state.  The goal of the pilot was to demonstrate that FIND could be used in formal child care and early learning settings. Positive outcomes from the pilot resulted in DEL implementing FIND across the state as part of Washington State’s child care quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), Early Achievers.  Adding FIND to Early Achievers will help to improve the quality of child care for infants and toddlers.

In order to increase the amount of FIND coaching, in January 2016, four randomly selected regions of the state began FIND with infant-toddler classrooms. The remaining six regions began implementation in July 2016. During the first year of FIND coaching, 189 caregivers completed the FIND program.  The impact can be heard in this quote from a teacher “I realized that my work with infants and toddlers has a big impact on their development and their future. I want every infant-toddler teacher to take this coaching.”

The project also involves training and certification of regional infant toddler consultants as FIND coaches who support child care providers through the state. Twenty-one FIND coaches were trained in coordination with the FIND development team at University of Oregon and Children’s Home Society of Washington.

Data collection during the first year of FIND was completed and is currently being analyzed by the FIND Development Team at the University of Oregon and researchers at the University of Washington. 

To read a set of case studies from this evaluation, click here: To read a full summary of all of the FIND initiatives, click here.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Research & Analysis to Support the 90% Goal

DEL’s goal: By the year 2020, 90% of five-year-olds will be ready for kindergarten, with race and family income no longer predictors of readiness.
In Spring 2016 the Department of Early Learning (DEL) established its first ever agency-wide Research & Analysis team, and we’re excited about the opportunity to support the agency’s 90 percent goal. Our team is made up of 2 researchers and 2 analysts whose job it is to make meaning out of data and help inform agency policy decisions. We’re supported by our agency Data Governance Coordinator and the Data Team in DEL’s IT Department who all help make sure we can get access to the data we need.

DEL has always had terrific analysts and data staff embedded in DEL program units to support our different programs – like ECEAP, Early Achievers, subsidy, home visiting, ESIT, and ECLIPSE. DEL’s new Research & Analysis team is building on that past success to explore agency-wide questions that will improve program quality and effectiveness, and help more children prepare for kindergarten.

In our first year we’ve starting producing answers to questions like:
  • How do children who’ve participated in ECEAP perform on WaKIDS kindergarten entry assessments? Why do many children in ECEAP exhibit greater levels of readiness in Spring of their ECEAP year than when they enter kindergarten in the Fall? 
  • What kind of impact are program enhancements like Family Support models in ECEAP and layered subsidy having on child and family experiences in DEL’s programs?  To what extent are DEL’s programs reaching children in need from different racial, ethnic, and language groups across the state? 
  • How is implementation of Washington’s Early Achiever’s Quality Rating and Improvement System impacting providers and children throughout the state? Are the Early Achiever’s policy changes having greater impact on some subgroups of providers and children than others? 

Getting to 90% Ready: Strategies
This graphic is one of the ways the research team tells the story of how DEL is doing at meeting our 90% goal, and how some of our tactics can get us closer to that goal.

In the coming year we’ll be exploring many more questions, including: 
  • To what extent do young children participate in multiple DEL programs? To what extent does participating in multiple early childhood programs help in preparing children for kindergarten? 
  • How does ECEAP dosage effect children’s readiness for kindergarten? To what extent is 2 years better than 1 year, or full-day better than part-day? Where are the greatest dosage gains made, and for which students?  
  • What are the assessment and instructional practices most effective for dual-language learners in ECEAP? What is the gap between what practices are most effective for students and what ECEAP provides? What are the professional development needs of early childhood educators working with dual-language learner students?

The statewide Early Learning Advisory Committee has established a Research Advisory Sub-committee to help advise DEL’s Research & Analysis Team on our work in progress. We’re also actively collaborating with partners at other state agencies, and we’d appreciate your feedback and ideas too. Feel free to contact us at: vickie.ybarra@del.wa.gov

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Public Records Office: A Cornerstone of Democratic Institutions

The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is committed to transparency and excellence in records management. To accomplish this goal, DEL has a small but mighty public records team. The public records team is responsible for keeping DEL in compliance with public records laws, but also to serve as a resource for the communities we serve.  Any member of the public can request documents and records from our agency for non-commercial purposes, and the public records team will make sure the right documents are delivered.  With their hard work and expertise, they are the very essence of an open and transparent government, one of the cornerstones of a healthy democracy.

As a public agency, DEL is subject to the Washington State Public Records Act under RCW 42.56.  We work hard to be transparent in our operations because we know this makes us better at serving and protecting children in Washington State.

So what is a public records request? Requests come in many forms including email, fax, mail, and carrier pigeon. OK, that last one hasn’t happened, but we’re open to it. Members of the public can request documents about almost anything at our agency.  This can include:
  • Policies that interpret state or federal law and are put in place by DEL. 
  • Administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect how we work with the public.
  • Reports, surveys, or research conducted by DEL. 
  • Correspondence by DEL employees, both to other employees and to members of the public.
As you can imagine, even for a small agency like DEL, that adds up to a lot of records requests every year.  We typically process between 200-250 requests a year, or about 16-20 requests each month.  Each request can vary in the number of documents it entails; one of the largest requests submitted to DEL requested thousands of employee emails!  Before releasing records to the public, our team reviews all of the requested documents for possible exemptions. The public records team walks a tightrope to ensure transparency in the work DEL does for the public while also protecting sensitive information for the families and children we serve.

The work of our public records team isn’t flashy or glamorous, and you will never find a five-year-old child dressing up as a public records officer for Halloween or career day.  But a strong and effective public records team is the backbone of our commitment to transparency, and an integral part of our civic duty as a state agency.

Do you have a public records request to make?  Visit our webpage to learn more: https://del.wa.gov/helpful-resources/other-resources/make-public-records-request.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

DEL is accepting applications for a Licensed Center Advisory Subcommittee of the Early Learning Advisory Council

The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is recruiting members for a new Licensed Center Advisory Subcommittee of the Washington Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC). This new subcommittee will be tasked with providing input on licensing and subsidy rules and regulations. 

Membership Requirements 

Members will represent a licensed child care center and Washington’s regional, racial, and cultural diversity. Members will serve two-year terms that expire on June 30th of the second year. We anticipate that the subcommittee will initially meet quarterly, and then reassess the need after the first year. Members are expected to attend the majority of meetings and be prepared to actively participate. Participants who volunteer in additional subcommittees or work groups should expect to meet outside of the regular meeting dates. 

Supports for Members

Subcommittee members are eligible for mileage reimbursements to help support participation. Mileage will be reimbursed at current state travel reimbursement rates and in accordance with the State of Washington Office of Financial Management Travel Regulations. Current rates for travel can be accessed at: http://www.ofm.wa.gov/policy/10.90.htm#10.90.10.

If you are interested, please fill out the application and submit it in one of the following ways by September 30, 2017:

Dept. of Early Learning 
State/Local Coordinatio
PO Box 40970
Olympia, WA 98504-0970
Drop-Off at:
Dept. of Early Learnin
State/Local Coordination 
1110 Jefferson St SE
Olympia, WA 98501
Feel free to contact us (slc@del.wa.gov) with any questions. 

Process and Timeline

September 30, 2017: Recruitments due to DEL
October 9-13, 2017: Recruitment Review
October 23, 2017: Applicants Notified
November 1, 2017: Membership Terms Begin 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Early Achievers – August 1, 2017 Milestone

Story Time 
The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is proud to announce that Washington’s early learning system has reached another Early Start Act milestone!  In 2016, all early learning providers accepting state child care subsidies made a commitment to quality improvement through participation in Early Achievers, Washington’s Quality Rating and Improvement System.  With the support of Early Achievers coaches at our partner Child Care Aware of Washington, these providers have spent the past year working to complete the Early Achievers Professional Training Series before the August 1, 2017 milestone mandated by the Early Start Act of 2015.  We are thrilled to share, as of August 1, 2017, 97 percent of mandated providers met this important milestone in quality improvement.  

Reaching this milestone has been a team effort and we are incredibly proud of the work that our partners and participants have done to accomplish this latest achievement:

  • In the past year, more than 1,500 licensed child care providers completed Early Achievers Level 2 activities, meaning the vast majority of licensed providers who accept state subsidies met the recent Early Start Act milestone. 
  • Early Achievers participants received a combined 81,277 hours of coaching, technical assistance and consultation, offered in English, Spanish, Somali, Russian from our wonderful partners at Child Care Aware.
  • As of now, approximately 71 percent of all licensed child care providers are participating in Early Achievers.

Today, more than 3,900 early learning providers in Washington participate in Early Achievers. Their dedication to continuous improvement and ongoing evaluation has a direct impact on kindergarten readiness for children across the state and we are proud to support their efforts. DEL and its partners will continue to offer a variety of supports and resources as we prepare Early Achievers participants for their next milestone of rating Level 3 or higher by the end of 2019. We will also continue to evaluate the Early Achievers system to ensure the quality standards lead to the kindergarten readiness, at the core of our mission and purpose. This latest successful milestone brings us one step closer to our goal of getting 90 percent of kids ready for kindergarten by 2020.
Want to know what providers are saying about the Early Achievers experience? Watch Child Care Aware of Washington’s Impact video series here: http://wa.childcareaware.org/providers/early-achievers

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

DEL to Have Strong, Familiar Leadership During Transition Year

Heather Moss and Ross Hunter
Starting August 1st, I will officially begin serving as the Secretary of the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).  While I’m excited about the opportunities we have to help improve outcomes for Washington’s most at-risk kids, I want to make sure we continue the crazy good work we’re doing here at DEL. I am pleased to tell you that Governor Inslee just offered our Deputy Director, Heather Moss, the position of DEL Director during this important transition year. 

Collectively, we have a lot of work to do in the next year to stand up the new DCYF, and I look forward to working with many of you to make this transition successful.  In the meantime, there is a lot of work still happening at DEL that needs the full energy and attention of a strong leadership team, and someone who knows the work intimately to steer the ship. I am extremely grateful to have Heather in this role.

In the almost two years that I’ve worked with her at DEL, she has been an excellent right-hand-woman, and she is well positioned to support DEL through this transition year. Below is a brief statement from her.  

Ross Hunter  

Dear DEL community,  

I am happy to serve as the Director of DEL during this important transition year. I am so proud of the work we all do here at DEL, and I have great respect for the partners, child care providers, Home Visitors, and everyone else who makes this a strong early learning system. As the Director, my focus will be on three areas:  
  • Hold steady on the important work we are currently doing here at DEL; 
  • Identify and celebrate the unique culture and values of the early learning field that we want to retain as we transition into DCYF; and
  • Partner with Ross and his transition team to manage a successful integration of DEL (and CA and JR) into DCYF. 
I have been at DEL for about 3 ½ years now and have seen our agency change, grow, and mature during that time. Since DEL’s inception 11 years ago there have been even more changes which have consistently improved the system, so I am confident we can successfully take on this new challenge of merging into DCYF. 

Our structure may look a bit different this year and next, but the work that each of you do is and will remain an important part of the early learning system in Washington State. We’ve got this! I am looking forward to working with you over this coming year; please reach out via email or phone to share your ideas and input!  


Heather Moss

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Success! Announcing Expansion of ECEAP, Washington’s Preschool for Vulnerable Children

After a very long budget year, we are excited to announce that more at-risk children and families will have access to high-quality preschool, health services coordination, and family support this fall as a result of new funding for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP). The Legislature invested $7,710,000 to create spaces for 800 more children for the 2017-18 school year. This funding will provide new “slots” of part-day services for 280 children, full-school day services for 480 children, and extended-day services for 40 children. In total, ECEAP will serve 12,491 children in 2017-18. 

As we outlined in a recent blog post which you can read here, ECEAP is Washington’s pre-kindergarten program that prepares 3- and 4-year-old children for success in school and in life. The Department of Early Learning oversees the program which is offered in more than 350 locations across the state. A 2014 evaluation by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) found that children who participated in ECEAP as preschoolers had significantly higher math and reading test scores in the third, fourth, and fifth grades than similar children who did not participate.
  • Benton County – 164 slots
  • Clark County – 73 slots
  • King County – 135 slots
  • Pierce County – 143 slots
  • Snohomish County – 67 slots
  • Spokane County – 24 slots
  • Thurston County – 135 slots
  • Yakima County – 147 slots

The Legislature also funded 1,000 more slots for children beginning in the 2018-19 school year and recommitted to serving all eligible children whose families are interested by 2022. 
DEL’s work isn’t done once we award slots. Over the coming months, DEL will provide technical assistance to those interested in applying for ECEAP expansion in the 2018-19 school year. We’ll also continue to partner with Child Care Aware of Washington to provide training and technical assistance to licensed child care providers (centers and homes) interested in providing ECEAP in their communities. Our goal: by the year 2022 there are enough high-quality ECEAP programs to serve all eligible children. 

Want to join us in achieving that goal? Visit our ECEAP page at https://www.del.wa.gov/eceap