Friday, March 29, 2013

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month: How you can make a difference

The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is observing National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April by raising awareness in the community about child abuse and neglect prevention. Gov. Jay Inslee has proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Washington. Read his proclamation here.

DEL’s Strengthening Families Washington is the Prevent Child Abuse Washington State Chapter. The Pinwheels for Prevention initiative uses pinwheels—a timeless symbol of childhood—to represent its campaign.

DEL has distributed more than 9,500 pinwheels to communities around the state. They’re popping up in front yards and at community events. The Capitol grounds in Olympia turn silver and blue with pinwheels planted in the ground the week of April 15-19.

Pinwheels for Prevention is a reminder that it is not enough to respond to child abuse and neglect—we must build and support strong families through community engagement, programs, and policies. This grassroots movement works towards developing communities that are healthy, safe, and nurturing for all children and all families.

What you can do to support strong families
  • Whether you are a parent, an early learning provider or a community member, you can help build and support strong families in your community every day in simple ways. Check out these calendars that offer an idea a day, such as offering a board game library in your facility for families, and holding family potlucks or movie nights at community centers with time for discussion.
  • Tell us what's happening in your community to support strong families. Email
  • Join us at the fountain!
Where: Tivoli Fountain, on State Capitol Grounds near Capitol Way, Olympia
When: April 15, 2013 at noon

Help raise awareness by taking a pinwheel and sharing with us how you’ve helped a child.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gov. Inslee announces budget priorities, including significant preschool funding increase

Gov. Jay Inslee today announced his budget priorities for the 2013-15 state operating budget, which included a proposed $35 million increase to funding for low-income 3- and 4-year-olds to attend preschool.

The Department of Early Learning's Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) currently offers high-quality preschool to about 8,400 children from low-income or otherwise vulnerable families. ECEAP includes at least 320 hours of preschool per school year, as well as family support, nutrition and health services.

ECEAP is effective at:
• Increasing children’s social-emotional, physical and pre-academic skills.
• Strengthening families and building their capacity to support their children’s success.
• Ensuring that each child receives medical and dental care so they start school with optimal health.

Read more about the strong gains in school readiness made for children enrolled in ECEAP.

Gov. Inslee's proposal would expand ECEAP by 1,000 enrollment slots in school year 2013-14 and 2,035 slots in school year 2014-15. The proposal includes quality improvements including increased classroom hours, more training for ECEAP teachers and family support specialists, and support from DEL ECEAP specialists to local programs to help ensure consistent quality statewide.

"With this proposal, Gov. Inslee makes clear his strong support for getting our youngest learners school-ready," DEL Director Bette Hyde said. "ECEAP is a proven program that is an important component of our early learning system. If we want all children to enter kindergarten ready to succeed--no matter where they live or their family income--we must offer them high-quality early learning opportunities."

Legislation passed in 2010 makes ECEAP an entitlement program in school year 2018-19, when any eligible child will be able to enroll. In January 2012, there were nearly 4,000 children on waiting lists for ECEAP programs around the state.  

Gov. Inslee's proposal also includes funding for full-day kindergarten expansion and reducing kindergarten and first grade class sizes and early reading intervention.

Read more about Gov. Inslee's budget proposal here. The Senate will announce its budget proposal in the coming days, followed by a proposal from the House of Representatives. The 2013 Legislature is scheduled to adjourn April 28.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Legislative update: Bills addressing early learning K through grade 3 moving foward

How to support Washington's youngest learners continues to be an area of focus during the 2013 legislative session. The Legislature hit a significant milestone on March 13, the date that bills had to be voted out of their house of origin (either the House of Representatives or the Senate).

Among the key early learning issues (birth through third grade) still on the table post-cutoff:

  • Child care subsidies. House Bill 1671 and Senate Bill 5595 are related to child care eligibility. They each create a parent and provider oversight board that
  • Early learning system. House Bill 1723 would create a legislative task force charged with looking at how to streamline the early learning system so that families can more easily access high-quality early learning opportunities at every age. The bill also provides an increase to Working Connections Child Care subsidy rates. 
  • Kindergarten transition. House Bill 1369 would allow kindergarten teachers to use up to five days at the start of kindergarten to meet with families as part of the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS). The Senate passed a measure (Senate Bill 5330) that provides for up to three days for this purpose.
  • Child outcomes. Several bills are still alive that aim to improve student outcomes:
    • Senate Bill 5491 establishes six statewide indicators of educational system health, including how many kindergartners display characteristics of incoming kindergartners on all six WaKIDS domains.
    • Senate Bill 5330 includes several strategies to enhance student outcomes, such as parent involvement coordinators and keeping class sizes in grades K-3 below the average of 25.23 students.
    • Senate Bill 5237 indicates the Legislature's intent to expand the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) to more students next biennium. It also includes language to help ensure students are reading at grade level in grade 3, and support them if they are not. 
    • House Bill 1680 would implement strategies to close the educational opportunity gap.
  • School-age care. House Bill 1547 makes clearer that certain drop-in school-age programs are exempt from child care licensure. House Bill 1968 directs the state Fire Marshal to make rules that help programs in school buildings operate school-age child care programs.
  • Children's privacy. DEL has agency-request legislation (House Bill 1203 and Senate Bill 5198) to allow us to redact children's names and identifying information from public records before releasing them.