Friday, May 25, 2012

Early Achievers expands; opportunity for professional development and incentives for licensed child care providers

Early Achievers, Washington’s quality rating and improvement system, is expanding! Licensed or certified child care providers may choose to participate. This voluntary program helps provide high-quality care to prepare children for school.

The Department of Early Learning is partnering with the Washington State Child Care Resource & Referral Network and the University of Washington to expand Early Achievers beginning on July 1, 2012.

Incentives for providers include:
  • One-on-one coaching: Research shows coaching is key to improving quality! The amount of coaching a provider receives is up to the provider. Coaching is not limited by the type or size of child care facility. Coaches are hired locally by resource and referral agencies. They will have in-depth understanding of the business of child care, but as important as that, they will have expertise in child development and program quality. Their job is to help providers set and achieve goals.
  • Quality improvement awards: Programs get awards for attaining higher rating levels. The awards are used to carry out their quality improvement plans designed with a coach. The state currently is bargaining the award amounts for family home child care providers with SEIU 925.
  • Professional development incentives and awards: Early learning staff will receive individual incentives for achieving training and education at universities and colleges in Washington, and programs can increase their rating levels by having more highly qualified staff.
  • Access to resource hubs: Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance (ECEAP) programs that are evaluated and scored at level 4 or 5 in Early Achievers will receive a bonus to serve as resource hubs, opening their doors to high-quality trainings and other support for local early learning professionals (examples might be: access to computer labs, time for providers and their coaches to observe classrooms).
Please visit or contact your local resource and referral agency to learn more about Early Achievers. Early Achievers is funded by the federal Child Care and Development Fund and Washington's Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What's new with Washington's Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant?

Washington was one of nine states to win a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant in December. Since that time, DEL and partners have truly been racing to capitalize on this opportunity to improve outcomes for Washington's youngest learners.

RTT-ELC is about reforming early education efforts in our state to help ensure the strongest outcomes for children. Washington's grant is being used to take key initiatives to scale and align them within the early learning system: 

  • Explanding and enhancing Early Achievers (our state's quality rating and improvement system).
  • Taking the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Kids (WaKIDS) statewide.
  • Improving professional development opportunities for those who care for and teach young children.
Find out more in our May 2012 RTT-ELC update.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Child Care Provider Appreciation Day is May 11!

We at DEL appreciate child care providers every day for their hard work and commitment to offering children safe, healthy learning environments. But every year, a special day is set aside nationally just for showing child care providers how much we value their efforts.

Gov. Chris Gregoire has proclaimed May 11, 2012, Child Care Provider Appreciation Day in Washington. View the proclamation in English and in Spanish.

Events are happening around the state to honor child care providers. Find out more.

How can you show appreciation for your child care provider? The Washington State Child Care Resource & Referral Network has several great ideas for saying thanks, including:

  • Offering to bring breakfast, lunch or treats for the teacher and children.
  • Having your child make a special art project for their provider.
 From all of us at DEL, thank you to Washington's child care providers!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

WaKIDS work team created by Legislature meets for first time

A work team created by the 2012 Legislature in House Bill 2586 met for the first time today to review progress on implementing the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) and begin creating recommendations to inform WaKIDS.

The work team is legislatively charged with making recommendations on:
  • Administering WaKIDS, including in half-day kindergarten classrooms.
  • How to achieve the legislative intent of replacing various kindergarten assessments used around the state with WaKIDS as the kindergarten entry tool.
The work team includes kindergarten teachers, principals, parents and representatives from DEL, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Thrive by Five Washington and Encompass.

WaKIDS is a process that:
  • Welcomes students and their families to kindergarten as partners in education.
  • Assesses students' strengths at the start of the kindergarten school year in several developmental domains (social/emotional, physical, language, cognition, literacy and math).
  • Encourages early learning providers to participate in ensuring a smooth transition into the K-12 system.
  • Engages the state in a conversation about characteristics of children's development and learning that will enable them to be successful in school.
Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, WaKIDS is mandatory for all state-funded full-day kindergarten classrooms. Five school districts have applied for and been granted one-year waivers from participating in WaKIDS next school year. At least 22,000 incoming kindergarteners will participate in WaKIDS next year, up from 7,300 in the current school year.

Work team members got an overview of WaKIDS implementation to date, and an update on how WaKIDS teacher input, including a teacher survey in fall 2011, has influenced the WaKIDS process:
  • OSPI and DEL are enhancing teacher trainings on Teaching Strategies GOLD, the tool used to measure where each child is in his or her development at the start of kindergarten.
  • The online data entry tool for GOLD has been streamlined and customized for Washington; and teachers this coming school year will only need to enter students' names, dates of birth and ID numbers to create their classroom roster.
  • OSPI and DEL have worked with the Educational Service Districts to create a regional network of support for teachers using WaKIDS.
  • Real-world tips from teachers on how to successfully integrate WaKIDS into the classroom are being collected to share online.
  • Introducing Me, a booklet parents can use when they meet with families at the start of the year, is being translated into 11 languages.
The work team will meet again in June. Their preliminary recommendations are due to the Legislature on December 1, 2012.

WaKIDS is funded with state dollars, the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant, and private contributions from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Thrive by Five Washington. Learn more at