Thursday, January 17, 2013

Early learning a key topic as 2013 legislative session begins

The 2013 Legislature convened this week for a 105-day session, during which they must write a 2013-15 budget. Stay connected on DEL's State Legislature web page, which includes links to reports, presentations, and DEL briefing papers on key programs and services.

Early learning issues likely to be areas of focus this session include:

  • How to expand and enhance the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), our state-funded preschool program. ECEAP is scheduled to become a statutory entitlement for eligible 3- and 4-year-olds beginning in school year 2017-18. Outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire in her proposed 2013-15 budget added $50 million to ECEAP to fund 5,000 more enrollment slots and program quality improvements.
  • How to support children ages birth to 3. A legislatively created birth-to-3 work group delivered recommendations to the Legislature on how to help ensure our very youngest learners and their families have high-quality opportunities that prepare them for school and life. Read those recommendations here
  • How to help ensure our state offers high-quality service to families seeking Working Connections Child Care subsidies and ensures program integrity.Read the eligibility study here, and the DEL/Department of Social and Health Services response here. DEL is pursuing continued state funding for an electronic subsidy attendance system to help ensure billing accuracy. That system will go live in 2015.
  • How to implement the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS), our state's kindergarten readiness process for helping to ensure a successful start to the K-12 experience. WaKIDS is a key component of Washington's Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant. A legislatively created work group has delivered recommendations to the Legislature about how to roll WaKIDS out statewide. Watch a WaKIDS update during a Jan. 17 joint work session of the House Early Learning & Human Services and House Education committees:

Watch a Jan. 17 DEL/Thrive by Five Washington overview to the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee: