Friday, February 22, 2013

Legislature reaches first major deadline; key early learning bills still "alive"

Feb. 22 is the first "cutoff" of the 2013 legislative session. This is the day that bills without fiscal impact must be voted out of policy committee. The session cutoff calendar, which outlines key deadlines, is online here.

A summary of the current status of key early learning-related bills is on DEL's website here. Among the issues being considered:

  • House Bill 1369 would allow kindergarten teachers to use up to five days at the beginning of the school year to meet with families and learn about the children they will be teaching. These "family connection" meetings are a key component of the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) and teachers say the meetings help them know their children better and inform their instruction.
  • HB 1723 would establish the Early Start program to provide a continuum of high-quality early learning opportunities for families. Among its provisions, the bill would enhance child care subsidy rates, increase funding for birth-to-3 programs, and create a legislative task force on early learning.
  • HB 1671 and Senate Bill 5595 have to do with child care subsidy reform. They have each been amended in different ways, but both would create a parent and provider oversight board to provide feedback to DEL and the Department of Social and Health Services on consumer issues.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee has requested two bills (House Bill 1872 and SB 5755) that seek to improve educational outcomes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). DEL would be included in a STEM Education Innovation Alliance to support STEM education and would be part of a STEM benchmark report on the state's efforts.
Learn more about the legislative process and check out the Legislature's pilot project for commenting bills online at  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Child care, kindergarten transition bills heard as 2013 legislative session continues

The Legislature just wrapped up week 3 of the 2013 session. Find a summary of some key bills DEL is watching here

Here are some early learning highlights from session so far:

  • DEL has presented updates on some key early learning programs (including the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, home visiting, the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills, child care subsidies, and Early Achievers) to various legislative committees. You can find the PowerPoint presentations and video of those presentations on DEL's website here.
  • Our agency-request bill that would allow us to redact children's names and identifying information from public records will be heard in the Senate on Tuesday. It already has been heard in the House. (Senate Bill 5198, sponsored by Sen. Jeannie Darneille and House Bill 1203, sponsored by Rep. Jessyn Farrell.)
  • DEL testified in support of HB 1134, which would require DEL to convene a work group to make recommendations on early learning programs in tribal compact schools. Watch the public hearing on this bill here.
  • DEL testified against HB 1228, which would exempt certain family home providers from meeting the high school education or equivalent requirement currently in rule. Watch the public hearing on this bill here.
  • DEL testified with concerns on SB 5157, which would require license-exempt providers receiving subsidies to become licensed after one year of providing care. Watch the public hearing on this bill here.
Coming up next week: Public hearings on bills to allow for up to five days for family connection at the beginning of the kindergarten year (HB 1369) and a student outcomes bill that would make changes to state-funded full-day kindergarten (SB 5330).