Monday, October 26, 2015

DEL Releases Results of 2014 Licensed Child Care Survey

The Department of Early Learning and the University of Washington did a survey on licensed child care in Washington state and these were some of the interesting results:

Findings about the Child Care Population:

An estimated 157,047 children in Washington were enrolled in licensed child care in the spring of 2014. About 85 percent of these children were in child care centers and the remaining 15 percent were in licensed family homes.
Information from the child care survey was combined with the population data from Washington’s Office of Financial Management to estimate the proportion of children of various ages in licensed care at the time of the child care surveys. Roughly 14 percent of children in Washington were estimated to be in care, with the proportions of children in care varying substantially by age group. Just over 9 percent of infants, 21 percent of toddlers, 26 percent of preschoolers, 14 percent of kindergartners and 7 percent of school‐age children were estimated to be in licensed care at the time of the survey in 2014.

Findings about Child Care Centers:

  • The total capacity for centers was 131,846 children. A total of 133,059 children were cared for in centers. The average capacity for centers was 67 children.
  • The number of vacancies for centers was 17,721. Among centers with at least one vacancy, the average vacancy rate was 13.44 percent.
  • Average hourly wage for employees at child care centers was $10.67 for assistants,
  • $12.82 for teachers, $15.48 for supervisors, and $17.08 for directors.
  • Staff turnover rates varied among different staff positions. The proportion of assistants newly hired was about 1.8 the proportion for teachers, which was 23 percent. Eleven percent of supervisors were newly hired compared to 12 percent of directors newly hired after September 1, 2013.
  • Overall, the staff turnover rates of assistants, teachers and supervisors were higher than those of 2012.
  • Less than 7 percent of survey participants from centers indicated they were uncomfortable calling their licensors.
  • Thirty‐five percent of center participants reported they received timely information on changes to licensing policies; 54 percent agreed that the licensor clearly explained the reasons behind the licensing regulations at the most recent licensing visit; and 60 percent believed that the licensor clearly explained what the center needed to do to comply with regulations.

Findings about Licensed Family Home Child Care:

  • In 2014, 66.7 percent of family homes received assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Child and Adult Care Food Program.
  • More than a half (51.8 percent) of participants from family homes reported having liability insurance.
  • Forty‐three percent of family home providers had a high school diploma or GED. Twenty‐two percent of family home owners reported having an associate degree in child development or a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential; 10 percent had a Bachelor’s degree, and 2 percent had either a Master’s or Doctorate degree.
  • On average, a licensed family home provider’s gross income was $37,203. For 54 percent of family home providers, child care earnings were their households’ primary source of income; their average income ($42,826) was considerably higher than family home providers with other income sources ($30,425).
  • Overall family home participants had positive experiences with their licensors and said they had no hesitation in calling their licensors (44 percent), reported they received timely information on licensing policy changes (29 percent) and clear explanations (37 percent) and suggestions from their licensors (49 percent). At the same time, 48 percent of participants didn’t feel that they were regarded as knowledgeable about and a professional in, the field of child care by their licensors.

Findings about Special Needs Care:

  • At the time of the survey, 57 percent of centers and 20.4 percent of family homes either were providing or had provided care for children with special needs at the time of the survey. 22.7 percent of centers that weren’t providing special needs care had provided care for children with special needs previously.
  • Six percent of centers and 3.3 percent of family homes applied for the special needs rate since January 1, 2014. Four percent of centers and 1.4 percent of homes received special need rate. Two percent of centers and 3 percent of homes requested a rate above the special needs rate since January 1, 2014, and 1.4 percent of centers and 1.8 percent of homes received a rate above the special need rate.

Findings about Children with Subsidized Child Care:

  • In 2014, an estimated 40,718 children received subsidizes for licensed child care in Washington: 9,127 children in licensed family homes, representing 38 percent of all children in family homes; and 31,591 children in child care centers, representing 24 percent of all children in centers.
  • Seventy‐nine percent of centers and 62 percent of family homes cared for children with child care subsidies.
  • Thirty‐eight percent of children in family homes and about 24 percent of children in centers received subsidized child care. On average, a family home cared for 3.85 children receiving subsidized child care, and centers cared for 22.19 children with subsidized child care over the last typical week of operation.

To read the entire survey, go here: 2014 Licensed Child Care Survey.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Resource Highlight: Vroom

You may have seen or heard various early learning people mention Vroom—but what is Vroom?  At its core, Vroom is a tool designed to help parents and caregivers interact with young children to maximize brain development through daily interaction. 

An impressive team of scientists from the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and early childhood development have been studying brain development. The evidence from this body of scientific research shows that the brain develops the fastest from birth to age five; more so than at any other stage in life.  Every child is born with billions or neurons and every positive interaction with a child, helps their brain make neural connections.  

OK, so all of this research is interesting and great…but how is this going to help parents and caregivers improve interaction with their child?  Parents and caregivers are a child’s first teacher so even though a child may not be able to speak—they are watching and hearing everything you do.  These interactions are shaping and growing a child’s mind. 

What Vroom aims to do is provide tools for parents and caregivers to enhance adult to child interaction.
What seem like simple, everyday tasks, turn into an opportunity to engage with a child in a one-on-one, neuron-nurturing, fire storm-of-fun!

Here are the basics of these activities:

  • Look: make eye contact.
  • Chat: talk about what you are doing, what you see or hear.
  • Follow: let your child lead the conversation or ask follow up questions.
  • Stretch: build on what your child does or says to make each interaction last longer.
  • Take turns: share conversation or sounds, words, faces or actions, go back and forth.

For specific activities or to sign up for daily suggestion—download the Daily Vroom App; or visit their website to see what all the excitement is all about

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Parent Advisory Group (PAG) Holds Productive Meeting

The newly established Parent Advisory Group (PAG) met for the first time last week in Seattle. The Washington State Department of Early Learning (DEL) has selected 17 parents to represent 10 regions as members of the group. The PAG will act as a sounding board for decisions, ideas and questions that shape the future of DEL and early learning programs throughout the state.

PAG members by Early Learning Region.

At the meeting, parents discussed topics including, but not limited to:
From the parents' perspective, the group determined what they would like to see happen in Washington for our state's littlest learners. PAG members are passionate about multiple early learning topics and expressed the need for:
  • More supports for children with special needs from the ages of three and five.
  • Increase quality and access to early learning opportunities across the different types of providers, starting at birth. 
  • Improved content in early learning settings. 
  • Cultural, special health care needs, promoting social emotional growth, so children have a strong foundation of healthy positive experiences before and throughout school. 
  • Supports for mental health, especially post-partum depression. There are services available for wealthy and low-income mothers, but not middle income. Provide access to all mothers who need support. 
  • Increased transparency and accessibility for state programs. Citizens understand what they’re paying for and there are no stigmas around accessing services. 
  • Access to quality care, no matter where you live in Washington. 
More was discussed during the day-long retreat in Seattle, and the PAG will continue to provide essential insight for DEL to produce strong, quality early learning initiatives in the future. Their next meeting is scheduled for early November.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

National SIDS Awareness Month: Spotlight on NISSA

According to the Northwest Infant Survival and SIDS Alliance, SIDS claims the lives of 2,500 infants in the U.S. each year. To honor National SIDS Awareness Month, DEL would like to remind the public of important resources that are currently available to Washington parents.

The Northwest Infant Survival and SIDS Alliance (NISSA) hosts a website that is loaded with valuable and educational resources for families, grieving parents, child care providers and more.

One of the organizations most valuable resources is their Safe Sleep Tips. Here are a few of the tips provided online:
  • Infants should always be placed on their backs for sleep.
  • Infants are safest in their own sleep environment.
  • A firm crib mattress covered by a sheet is the recommended sleeping surface.
  • Keep all soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib.
  • Do not smoke during pregnancy or around infants.
  • Wedges and "positioners" should not be used.
  • Consider offering your infant a pacifier at naps and bedtime.
  • Dressing babies too warmly may cause them to overheat. They can sleep comfortably in light clothing.
  • Avoid commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS. None have been proven safe or effective.
Krista Cossalter Sandberg, Executive Director of the Northwest Infant Survival and SIDS Alliance notes,
"The biggest issue in sleep related infant death is currently co-sleeping."
NISSA dedicates a section of their website to the University of Washington research regarding safe sleep, including a publication about bedsharing.

Sleeping in the same space as your child or children can be done safely, according to the University of Notre Dame, but doctors warn the public of risks. Check out their guide on how to safely co-sleep.

Dr. James J. McKenna of the University of Notre Dame states,
"Aside from never letting an infant sleep outside the presence of a committed adult, i.e. separate-surface co-sleeping which is safe for all infants, I do not recommend to any parents any particular type of sleeping arrangement since I do not know the circumstances within which particular parents live. What I do recommend is to consider all of the possible choices and to become as informed as is possible matching what you learn with what you think can work the best for you and your family."
NISSA currently works with DEL's licensed providers to promote safe sleep practices throughout the state. The organization sent safe sleep information, WAC (Washington Administrative Code) regulations and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) guidelines as well as a poster with a safe sleep environment image to every child care provider in Washington.

The AAP has been instrumental in the development of DEL's safe sleep training and guidelines. For more information about those, go here: DEL Safe Sleep.

NISSA offers various ways you can get involved in their organization, including an upcoming dinner and auction: "An Evening of Courage and Hope." There are other ways to volunteer as well. To find out more, visit their site here: Volunteer.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Early Learning Regional Coalitions Meet for Statewide Summit

Community-minded early learning advocates from around the state gathered in Spokane for their third statewide summit this year. Geared towards networking, the sharing of best practices, and local empowerment, the statewide regional coalition summit supports the advancement of quality early learning throughout the state.

The agenda included: 
  • legislative advocacy, 
  • standards alignment, 
  • a statewide early learning dash board and may other important topics.  
There was even an opportunity for local leaders to meet the new director of the Department of Early Learning, Ross Hunter and engage in a brief Q&A. 

Early Learning Regional Coalition Map
The gathering of over 70 people included representation from every corner of the state spanning from Vancouver to the Olympic Peninsula to the Tri-Cities and, of course, Spokane.  There was representation from all 10 of the state’s regional coalitions, many of which are broken down even further to better capture the needs and potential of local systems.  This summit in Spokane was the third this year with the first taking place in Olympia (to facilitate greater coordinated advocacy during the legislative session) and the second in Vancouver.

When asked about the value of these summits, recently appointed early learning coordinator of Skagit County, Lyndie Case, said enthusiastically, 
“I’m new here, this is my first summit and I am grateful for the opportunity to hear from my counter parts across the state." Flying in from Bellingham for the event, Case used the summit as an opportunity to learn about her local connection to the larger effort taking place across the state, “I feel now like I better understand the state system and can put names to faces of my fellow coalition leads.”
Empowering understanding at the local level has long been a theme of these summits that have been taking place regularly for 5 years.  The effort is spearheaded by ThriveWashington and is supported by the leadership of Dan Torres, Director of Community Momentum with Thrive.  The father of two young sons himself, Dan is excited about the impact that regional coalitions can have on early learning opportunities for all of Washington’s young children. 
“These events are a chance to share best practices and build a common voice for the advancement of quality early learning through functional relationships geared towards on the ground action and results,” said Torres. 
DEL Director, Ross Hunter
Dan, who has been leading this effort with thrive for three years, has built an event that promotes networking, idea sharing, and increased collaboration.

Making a special appearance at the event, newly appointed Department of Early Learning Director Ross Hunter shared his passion for early learning and showed a real responsiveness to those on the ground.  
“My job is to help break down barriers so that those committed to working for the advancement of quality early learning can better serve the youngest kids in our state,” said Hunter.  
After a brief introduction, Director Hunter addressed audience questions that touched on a range of topics, including the passage of the Early StartAct, the hard work that it took to get the act through the legislature and his thoughts on how to best support advancing the field of early learning.  

This is the final summit of 2015 with the next scheduled for 2016 during the legislative session to better encourage direct advocacy from on the ground early learning professionals.