Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New federal crib rules go into effect today

Starting today, anyone manufacturing or selling baby cribs in the United States must meet new crib safety standards approved by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission in December 2010. These rules are meant to help keep children safer in their cribs, and include a ban on drop-side cribs and more rigorous safety testing by manufacturers. Drop-side cribs have caused the death of more than 30 infants and toddlers since 2000.

Child care facilities, infant Head Start centers, hotels and motels have until December 28, 2012, to use only cribs compliant with the new standards.

Visit the CPSC Crib Information Center for more information, including an updated questions and answers document on the new crib standards.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Washington warms up to Race to the Top

As we await federal guidance on how to apply for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant announced in late May, DEL has set up a web page where we will post updates on RTT-ELC.

You also can share your ideas, input and questions by emailing rtt-elc@del.wa.gov.

Guidance is expected in July for this $500 million competitive grant, which is meant to help states raise the quality of and integrate their early learning programs and services.

Monday, June 20, 2011

There’s still time! Please comment on the draft purpose and guiding principles for the early learning guidelines

Our state is reviewing and redesigning our early learning guidelines to make sure they are culturally relevant; link to the K-12 system; and reflect what we now know about how children grow and learn. It is important for our state early learning system to have a set of early learning guidelines, which serve as a resource for common understanding about how children learn and grow and what everyone can do to support that.

We need your input!

Please go to our early learning guidelines section to learn more about this redesign process, and how you can give input on the draft purpose and guiding principle statements. On that page, under “Redesign,” you will find:

• A letter from Department of Early Learning Director Bette Hyde on this redesign process.
• Fast facts about the redesign process.
• A list of individuals on the redesign steering committee.
• A form for you to send your comments on the draft purpose and guiding principle statements.

Later this summer, draft early learning guidelines will be available for comment.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Child care licensing fees increase on July 1

The 2011-2013 state operating budget raises annual child care licensing fees effective July 1, 2011. This money goes directly into the state general fund, not to the Department of Early Learning.

The new annual fee structure is as follows:

Child care centers and school-age programs
• $125 per year for the first 12 children; and
• $12 per year for each additional child up to the facility’s licensed capacity

Family home child care programs
$30 per year

This fee increase will be reflected on the invoice licensees receive 90 days prior to the anniversary date of your license. If you have already received an invoice because your fee is due in July, August or September, a supplemental invoice will be sent to you with details on how to pay this fee increase.

Please contact your local DEL licensing office if you have any questions.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Seasonal Child Care program available again July 1; new application process in place

Families will be able to apply for the Seasonal Child Care (SCC) subsidy program again beginning July 1. The program had been suspended since December due to lack of funding.
DEL has made some changes to the program rules, including limiting entry to the program to help ensure the funding lasts through the year.

Also starting July 1, families will apply for SCC through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), rather than through local organizations. DSHS will not begin taking SCC applications before July 1. Click here to read more about the new application process.
SCC provides subsidies to eligible seasonally employed agricultural families to help ensure their children are in safe, licensed care while parents are working.

Friday, June 3, 2011

DEL moves forward with Washington Quality Rating and Improvement System

Earlier this week, DEL sent information to some members of the early learning community about next steps for Washington’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).

QRIS is a systemic way to improve quality of child care with a focus on child outcomes and school readiness. The model does this through supporting quality environments, effective teacher-child interactions and meaningful family engagement.

For the past two years, 80 participants from five communities participated in the Seeds to Success field test, which was led by our partners at Thrive by Five Washington, and will end on June 30. DEL will now begin moving toward statewide expansion by inviting up to 60 field test participants to become “early adopters” of the final QRIS model. Early adopters must meet certain requirements, and commit to helping with the development of a sustainable QRIS model that is child-centered and family-focused.

Early adopters will continue to receive coaching, scholarships, training and incentives to support their quality improvement efforts during the first year of the system.

Early adopter applicants must meet these requirements:

  • Participated in the Seeds to Success field test
  • Have spring 2011 follow-up evaluation data
  • Serve a minimum of four children ages birth through 5
  • Have an active state child care license (no suspensions, revocations and not currently on probation) with no pattern of non-compliance (cannot have two or more valid complaints of the same type within the past 12 months)
  • Serve children receiving state child care subsidies, or offer scholarships or a sliding fee scale for low-income families

DEL will send field test participants an information kit later this month, including an application. We expect to launch activities with providers in late August 2011. We aim to expand QRIS to new facilities statewide in summer 2012 (depending upon available resources).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Competition for additional federal home visiting funding announced

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced up to $99 million in additional competitive grants to states to enhance home visiting efforts.

About $66 million of this funding will be awarded in four-year grants to between seven and 10 states who already have made significant progress in building a high-quality home visiting program as part of an early learning system.

Washington already has received a $1.3 million grant through the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation Programs (MIECHV) for fiscal year 2010. An updated state plan will be submitted by June 8 as the final step in accessing funds for program implementation.

States must apply by July 1, 2011, for these additional dollars. DEL will post more information about this application process as it becomes available.

To learn more about home visiting efforts in Washington, go to the home visiting section of our website.

The MIECHV is part of the Affordable Care Act. For more information on MIECHV, visit the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration online.