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.