Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Working Connections Child Care Changes

Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) helps families with low incomes pay for child care while they work or meet WorkFirst participation requirements. Additional changes are being made to WCCC to balance the program budget for the current fiscal year and the 2011-2013 biennium.

Beginning March 1, 2011, families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits and families of children with specials needs will receive priority access to WCCC. Remaining families with incomes at 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines or less will receive child care benefits on a “first come, first served” basis until the program reaches a set limit. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) will keep a waiting list of potentially eligible families who apply. Families will be notified by mail when there are openings in the child care program, and they will have 10 days to complete the application process.

Families who currently receive WCCC benefits remain income eligible until their monthly incomes exceed 175 percent of the FPG. The copayment increases previously announced for February 1 and March 1 remain the same.

For more information, including potential questions and answers, visit:  
We know these are tough messages for families, child care providers and communities. If a family is placed on a waiting list, check with the local child care resource and referral program to see if there any child care providers in the community offer a sliding fee scale or scholarship opportunities. There are also statewide hotlines that can help connect families to local resources, including:

Friday, February 4, 2011

WaKIDS shines at joint work session

Yesterday, DEL Director Bette Hyde, OSPI Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Jessica Vavrus and others talked about the WaKIDS pilot to a joint work session of the House Education and Early Learning & Human Services. WaKIDS is the pilot kindergarten readiness process going on now in 115 school districts. Superintendent Randy Dorn submitted audio testimony in support of the project.

Check out the video from TVW.

The WaKIDS pilot includes three parts:
  • Family connection — Time for the kindergarten teacher and family to meet and share information about the child entering kindergarten.
  • An assessment of where children are in four domains of child development (social/emotional; literacy; cognitive; physical). Three different “bundles” of assessment tools are being tested by different communities during the pilot.
  • Early learning collaboration—Time for early learning providers and kindergarten teachers to meet and share information about children entering kindergarten.

WaKIDS preliminary data suggest that more than a third of those children participating in WaKIDS enter kindergarten below expected skill levels. The parent, preschool teacher and kindergarten teacher who also testified on Thursday spoke to the great improvement in personal connections, learning and enthusiasm that resulted from using the WaKIDS tools. OSPI has submitted legislation to include WaKIDS in state-funded kindergarten classrooms.

Toppenish preschool teacher Krista Goudy-Sutterlict from described how the WaKIDS process strengthens the relationships between preschool and kindergarten teachers which can then guide and strengthen early learning settings.

“What I mean by strengthening the relationship, we’re using the same language,” she said.

Goudy-Sutterlict, who is also a member of the Yakama Nation, said she works to incorporate cultural awareness into her classroom.

“What I appreciate about the WaKIDS process is its holistic approach,” she said.

Hortensia West, a Spanish immersion kindergarten teacher in the Bremerton School District visited her students and their families in the two weeks before school started to learn about their expectations, traditions and personalities. Using the WaKIDS tools showed her where she needed to adjust her teaching and lesson plans to fit her students’ strengths and weaknesses.

“Taking all that information, I brought it into the classroom and it has made a tremendous difference,” she said. “There’s so much cohesiveness.”

Surina Warren-Nash, a parent in Ridgefield School District, explained how when her son (who is now in third grade) first entered kindergarten, the teacher didn’t support using the information collected from his ECEAP and Head Start classrooms. The WaKIDS process encourages information sharing to build a full picture of a child. Warren-Nash hopes this is what happens for her daughter who is about to enter kindergarten.
“WaKIDS just makes sense,” she said.

 For more information about WaKIDS, visit

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Working Connections Child Care subsidy agreement begins today

Eligibility changes for the Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) program will not go into effect today, but instead, families will see higher copayments and potential waiting lists.

New eligibility rules were planned for today due to budget shortfalls and caseload increases. However, a new agreement will keep families with incomes up to 175 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) eligible for the program, but increase their out-of-pocket costs.
Effective February 1, 2011, through February 28, 2011:
  • Families with incomes above 82 percent of the FPG to 137.5 percent will have copayments increase from $50 to $60 per month.
  • Families with incomes above 137.5 percent of the FPG through 175 percent will have monthly copayments increase using a sliding scale.
Effective March 1, 2011:
  • Families with incomes above 82 percent of the FPG to 137.5 percent will have copayments increase to $65 per month.
  • Families with incomes above 137.5 percent of the FPG through 175 percent will have monthly copayments increase using a sliding scale.
There will be no copayment change for families with incomes at or below 82 percent of the FPG. Their payments remain $15 a month.

Another change starting today will allow only licensed or certified family home child care providers to be eligible for field trip fee reimbursements for children in subsidized care. Child care centers and school-age centers will not be eligible for field trip fees.

About 37,400 families use the WCCC program a month to help pay for child care while they work or meet WorkFirst participation requirements. DEL is working with partners to determine how best to implement the new agreements to support families while achieving needed cost savings. Certain families may be placed on a waiting list to receive help. The extent of this waiting list is unclear until it is determined how many families exit the program.

More information will be shared as it is available and posted on our WCCC web page.