Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) earns nine out of 10 quality points

Once again, Washington’s publicly funded preschool program ranks among the top in the nation, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Our state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) earned nine out of 10 quality points in the national organization’s 2010 Preschool Yearbook, released April 25. The quality checklist ranks several standards, including:
  • Whether the state has comprehensive early learning standards.
  • Staff-to-child ratios
  • Class sizes
  • Teacher qualifications
  • Screening/referral and support services
  • Program monitoring
Data shows that the more than 8,000 3- and 4-year-olds being served in ECEAP this school year will enter kindergarten better prepared for success in school and life. And we know they have big dreams for the future. Students in one northwest Washington ECEAP classroom recently shared their hopes with their teacher, and here’s what they said:
  • A police officer.
  • A cowboy.
  • An astronaut.
  • A doctor.
  • I want to work where my dad works.
  • How about a papi like my papi.
  • A baker.
  • A motorcycle rider.
  • A mommy.
  • Go to work at Costco like my dad.
  • A pilot and fly a jet.
  • Drive a fire truck.
  • An electrical engineer. I’m going to design electricity all over the world, even in poor places.
  • A singer.
  • A teacher.
  • Be in the army.
  • Go to college.
  • A painter.
  • A cowgirl.
  • A big kid.
  • A builder.
  • A worker at Denny’s.
  • A farmer.
For more information about ECEAP, visit www.del.wa.gov/care/find-hs-eceap/

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Seeds to Success field test near end; DEL prepares to expand statewide

On June 30, the field test will end for Seeds to Success, our state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) and the Department of Early Learning (DEL) will begin moving toward statewide expansion.

QRIS programs offer information about child care quality to help parents find the right child care for their families. There are 25 states with programs, including Pennsylvania, Colorado and Massachusetts.

DEL partnered with Thrive by Five Washington to conduct the field test in five communities (Thrive demonstration communities of East Yakima, White Center, and Spokane, Clark and Kitsap counties). Working with the communities, Thrive, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we’ve developed and tested quality standards, evaluated incentives and supports for child care providers, and created a nationally recognized program that has served about 3,000 children and 90 child care providers statewide. We have learned a great deal about what works and what can be improved to better support child care providers in creating quality environments.

In recognition of their work to ensure high-quality learning environments for Washington’s children, eligible field test participants will have the opportunity to continue with the program. They will become early adopters of the final QRIS model and continue to receive continue to receive training and support to improve child care. Application criteria for early adopters will be availablein May.

DEL is committed to expanding Seeds statewide. After June 30, we will have the final data to refine the quality standards and begin building the technology, policies and systemwide training necessary to expand to more communities. This work will take time, and DEL does not anticipate inviting new child care centers and family homes to participate until next year.

Nationally and here in our state, QRIS is a top priority. Washington is one of 10 states nationwide invited to partner with the federal Office of Child Care to ensure our system aligns with federal benchmarks and priorities. Moving forward on QRIS is a key strategy of the 10-year statewide Early Learning Plan and the report delivered to the Legislature by the Professional Development Consortium in December 2010. DEL has prioritized a portion of our federal funding in the next biennium for this work.

To learn more about the Seeds to Success model, visit www.del.wa.gov/seeds.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Love.Talk.Play: New statewide campaign launches!

Parenting isn’t always easy. Now there’s a new resource that helps parents of babies and toddlers understand three simple actions they can take to give their child a great start in life: Love. Talk. Play.

The statewide education and awareness campaign kicks off this week, which is the National Week of the Young Child. “Love. Talk. Play.” is shaped by information from national early learning experts, conversations with parents, and input from local early learning coalitions and other partners.

We at the Department of Early Learning are proud to join our partners at Thrive by Five Washington and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction as primary sponsors of this effort. Parent awareness is a key strategy in the statewide Early Learning Plan.

Visit http://www.lovetalkplay.org/ to learn more!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Families move off child care subsidy waiting list, onto program

On April 1, the Department of Early Learning (DEL) began notifying about half of families on the Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) subsidy waiting list that space is now available for them on the program. We are sending letters to 1,431 families letting them know they have 10 days to call and complete the application process.

WCCC helps families with low incomes pay for child care while they work or meet WorkFirst participation requirements. DEL began the waiting list on March 1 to help balance a shortfall in the WorkFirst budget. The program now serves a maximum of 35,200 families each month. DEL determines how many families can be pulled from the waiting list after looking at program usage and payment data.

Families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits and families of children with special needs have priority access to WCCC. Remaining families with incomes at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for WCCC on a “first come, first served” basis.

Find out more by visiting the WCCC page on the DEL website.