Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gov. Inslee signs 2013-15 state operating budget that supports Washington’s youngest learners

It took one regular legislative session and two special “overtime” sessions, but the Legislature has passed and Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a 2013-15 state operating budget that supports school readiness and success for Washington’s youngest learners.

Here are some highlights of the 2013-15 operating budget, with a note on which strategy in our state’s Early Learning Plan the items support:
  • Expanding Washington’s state-funded preschool program for low-income 3- and 4-year olds.  The Department of Early Learning (DEL) will add 350 enrollment slots to the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) in the upcoming 2013-14 school year, and another 1,350 slots in the 2014-15 school year. Funding is provided to increase the slot rate to $7,500 for all enrollment slots by the end of the biennium, and to enhance program quality and oversight. (Early Learning Plan strategy #12: Expand and enhance ECEAP)
  • Supporting vulnerable new families with voluntary home visiting. The budget adds $1 million in state funding to Washington's home visiting system, which offers voluntary support and resources to expectant parents and families with new babies and young children. (Early Learning Plan strategy #5: Make home visiting available to at-risk families)
  • Building a strong preschool-3rd grade continuum. The budget increases state-funded full-day kindergarten from reaching 22 percent to 43 percent of incoming kindergartners. It also adds state funding to support teacher training on the Washington State Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS), our state’s kindergarten readiness assessment. (Early Learning Plan strategy #28: Implement kindergarten readiness assessment (WaKIDS) and Early Learning Plan strategy #29: Implement phased-in full-day kindergarten).
  • Enhancing child care subsidies. The budget includes a 2 percent base rate increase for child care providers who offer care that is subsidized by the Working Connections Child Care program. It also boosts subsidy reimbursement by 2 percent for providers who join Early Achievers, our state’s quality rating and improvement system. (Early Learning Plan strategy #33: Improve child care subsidies)
  • Enhancing longitudinal data to measure program effectiveness. The budget requires DEL to submit even more program data to the state’s P-20 longitudinal data system to help ensure we are measuring how our investments are impacting school readiness and success. (Early Learning Plan strategy # 36: Expand P-20 longitudinal data system)
  • Continue efforts to ensure integrity in subsidy program. The budget continues funding for DEL’s work to build an electronic child care subsidy attendance system by 2015, and supports DEL’s audit team to help ensure that child care subsidy billing is accurate.
View more information on the 2013 legislative session, including DEL’s implementation plans for key bills.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Early Achievers is available in all Washington counties, starting July 1!

Early Achievers, Washington’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system, is now available to all licensed child care providers and families statewide. Starting today, we've completed the three-phase statewide rollout of Early Achievers.

DEL, with our partners Child Care Aware of Washington and the University of Washington, launched the Early Achievers' statewide rollout one year ago, after a successful pilot project with 64 "early adopters." Since then, we have grown to nearly 1,400 participating child care providers, serving more than 34,000 Washington children.

What does this mean for families?

Child Care Check screen shot of an Early Achievers participant
Child care providers demonstrate their commitment to quality simply by participating in Early Achievers.
Parents can find out whether their provider is participating in Early Achievers by looking on Child Care Check, DEL's online licensed child care information system. You can the provider's Early Achievers status by looking for the Early Achievers icon.

Soon, you will be able to see whether your provider is “participating in quality improvement,” which means they are working on being rated or have been rated level 2, or has achieved a “quality level of excellence” which means the provider has been rated level 3, 4 or 5.

You also can ask your provider whether they are participating in Early Achievers and learn more about what they are doing to ensure that the children in their care are ready for success in school and beyond.

Opportunities for child care providers
Early Achievers offers child care providers and their staff access to coaching, professional development, cash incentives, and other resources that support high-quality child care at no cost to providers or families.

One recent professional development opportunity for child care providers and their staff is the Early Achievers Institutes, being held in several Washington locations this summer and fall. The first institute was held in SeaTac last week, June 27-30. The next institute is July 11-14 in Spokane. Participants choose the sessions they want to attend and have an opportunity to meet other Early Achievers participants. Scholarships and translation are available.

Head Start/ECEAP pilot project
We are preparing for participation of Head Start and our state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, or ECEAP, providers. We recently finished a one-year pilot project with Head Start and ECEAP and as a result, those programs will join at a Level 3 and may serve as“resource hubs,” sharing their training and other resources with child care providers in their community. ECEAP programs must join Early Achievers by 2015, due to House Bill 1723.

For more information

Early Achievers is 100 percent supported by the 2011 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge federal grant and the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) ($21 million for fiscal year 2013), for which DEL is the lead state agency.