Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Senate Committee hears about home visiting in Washington

Evidence-based home visiting services help improve school readiness, child health and public safety in Washington, a panel including DEL Director Bette Hyde told the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee this morning.

DEL Director Bette Hyde and Thrive by Five CEO and President Nina Auerbach speak to the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee

During home visits, trained professionals offer information and support to expecting and new parents to help them in their role as their child's first and most important teacher. This support is particularly important in the first years of life, when a child's brain is growing and forming connections faster than at any other time, Hyde said.

In our state, several entities including DEL and our private nonprofit partner Thrive by Five Washington are working to leverage public and private dollars to support and expand home visiting services. Home visiting is a key strategy in our statewide Early Learning Plan and Birth to Three Plan to help support families and reduce risk factors.

Watch today's presentation below from TVW.

Read more about home visiting on DEL's website, and on Thrive's website.

Yesterday, DEL announced seven at-risk communities invited to participate in the next steps for a federal home visiting funding opportunity. This work is part of a $1.3 million home visiting program grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Washington among top in nation for child care center licensing

Washington once again ranks among the top in the nation for our licensing rules and oversight for child care centers, according to a National Association for Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) report released this week.

Washington ranks sixth in the nation overall for our center regulations and oversight. We ranked ninth in the last NACCRRA report, issued in 2009.

NACCRRA highlighted some of the strengths in our center licensing work, including: unannounced monitoring visits and complaint inspections; regulations that address all developmental domains as well as all basic health and safety standards; and an emphasis on parent involvement and information.

The Department of Early Learning licenses about 2,000 centers around the state, which includes school-age programs. View our state’s center rules and school-age rules here:

NACCRRA recommends that Washington:
  • Increase frequency of inspections of child care centers (we currently inspect once every 12 months for centers).
  • Require center directors to have a bachelor’s degree or higher in early childhood education or a related field.
  • Increase the education requirements for lead teachers to a child development associate (CDA) credential or an associate degree in early childhood education or related field (currently high school diploma or GED).
  • Increase annual training requirements to 24 hours, including CPR and first-aid (currently 10 hours).
  • Require fingerprints for checking individuals’ criminal history (currently our state only requires fingerprints for those who have lived in the state less than three years).

See Washington’s report card here:

NACCRRA also ranks regulations and oversight for family home child care in a separate report—the 2010 report is available here:

Monday, March 14, 2011

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan joins Governor, legislators to discuss Department of Education proposal

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has weighed in on our state’s conversation about how to build a more student-focused education system, first in a March 8 opinion piece in the Seattle Times and again today during a teleconference education roundtable with Governor Chris Gregoire and education leaders in the Washington Legislature.

Watch today’s education roundtable below.

The Governor has proposed a single state Department of Education to coordinate early learning, K-12 and higher education.

The bill currently being considered is SB 5639. The House has passed a bill, HB 1849, which would study the issue.

“To me, it’s just really encouraging that we’re putting these tough issues on the table and having thoughtful conversations about them,” Duncan said. “The more courage we can show in making these decisions—our children and ultimately our country desperately need our leadership now more than ever.”

Legislators visited the issue of early learning as a smart investment during the conversation. Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, asked Duncan how states can protect early learning in tough budget times.

“If we’re serious about getting educators at every level out of the remediation business, that means we have to have a lot more children enter kindergarten ready to learn and ready to read, with literacy and socialization skills intact,” Duncan replied.