Thursday, December 15, 2016

Statement from DEL, Proposed Expansion of Early Learning

On Wednesday, Dec. 14, Gov. Inslee unveiled his proposed 2017–19 operating, transportation and capital budgets. The budget roll-out follows the governor’s announcement Tuesday of his plan to fully fund basic education — and more to support kids, families, and teachers.
“This year’s proposed budget supports a vision for Washington’s future,” said Ross Hunter, DEL Director. “The investment our Governor has made will ensure children have the supports they need to succeed in the classroom, while parents and caregivers have the resources necessary to support their families outside of school.”
The governor’s operating budget:
  • Fully funds basic education
  • Invests in high-quality teachers and closing the opportunity gap
  • Begins transformative restructuring of services for children and families
  • Provides a modest pay increase to support a stronger state workforce
In regard to investment in early childhood education, the governor’s proposed budget:
  • Enhances rates for child care and preschool programs and providers 
  • Increases slots for children to enroll in Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP - State-funded preschool)
  • Includes funding for ECEAP additional facilities
  • Provides more slots for home visiting services
  • Expands summer learning opportunities in our state-funded preschool program
“We are excited to expand the capacity of our completely integrated state-funded preschool program, ECEAP and to increase capacity for our state’s smallest learners after the minimum wage increases for providers,” said Hunter. “Washington’s most at-risk children and families need access to preventative services and high quality early learning in order for this investment to yield a better future for our state.”
The Department of Early Learning was allotted approximately $75.5 million over the next two years (2017-2019). More details about the proposed budget and what that means for early learning in Washington State will be released. For more information about DEL’s budget requests, go to

For more details about Gov. Inslee's proposed 2017-19 budget, please go here: Gov's Budget.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Director's Message: Minimum Wage Increase

Dear early learning professional,

As you know, Initiative 1433 to increase Washington State’s minimum wage passed this year with pretty large margins. This initiative provides for an increase in the minimum wage to $11.00 on January 1, and incremental increases until the wage rises to $13.50 in 2020. The initiative also requires paid sick leave for many employees.

We recognize that this wage increase can be seen as a two-sided coin. Wages for some of our lowest-paid educational workers and for some of the families you serve will rise to get a lot closer to a liveable wage. However, child care providers as business owners will face a significant financial pressure to raise rates to cover the cost of these increases.

We are aware that this initiative will present fresh challenges for some providers, and we are trying to better understand these implications from both an individual and systems level. The Department of Early Learning is generating a cost model for the Legislature to help them understand the constraints that private pay and subsidy childcare providers face with this new financial reality. While we do not have any shareable details at this time, we intend to make this analysis available to the public in December.

I would not normally write to all providers until we had more details to share, but many of you have written or called with concerns about this and I want you to know we’re hearing you and taking the steps available to us to provide you with more information.

Please look out for more information in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here are some resources that may help explain the new law: 


Ross Hunter

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Recognize Your Hero: Celebrate Washington Parents

The Department of Early Learning’s (DEL) Strengthening Families Washington division, with the help of Seattle’s Child will recognized 28 parents in February 2017 at the State’s annual Unsung Heroes event.

The initiative is meant to honor “Unsung Heroes” or parents or caregivers who demonstrate strength, courage and empathy in their communities.

This year’s honorees from all over the State will be invited to western Washington for the 2017 Unsung Heroes event where family, friends and nominators can share inspirational stories about what it means to be an Unsung Hero in their communities.

DEL Director Hunter and Assistant Director Williamson
congratulate an Unsung Hero and parent at last year's event.
Last year, DEL Director, Ross Hunter as well as DEL Assistant Director, Greg Williamson awarded 29 Unsung Heroes and their families with a plaque and inspirational children’s book, The Dot after sharing dinner and playing with children attendees at Olympia’s Mobile Hands On Children’s Museum.

Each Unsung Hero’s story will also be available online at and will be shared on DEL’s Facebook page.

More about Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes has celebrated parents and caregivers in Washington State since 2011. Nominees are selected based on their ability to utilize five “protective factors,” in their work and/or personal life such as:

·         Knowledge of parenting and child development
·         Social connections
·         Parental resiliency
·         Concrete support in times of need
·         Social and emotional competence of children

If you are interested in nominating someone for a 2017 Unsung Hero award, please fill out the Unsung Hero Award Form and send it to or by mail to SFWA, 1110 Jefferson St. SE, Olympia Washington, 98501.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

ACH Payments Accepted Now for Background Check Fees

New this fall, an electronic payment option is available to individuals and providers who are paying the Department of Early Learning’s background check application fee of $12.

For a Spanish or Somali version of this message, please go here: Background Checks - Soomaali or here: Background Checks - EspaƱol.

Automated Clearing House (ACH) is an electronic withdrawal directly from your checking or savings account. A bank account (checking or savings) and bank routing number are required for ACH electronic payments.

DEL will continue to accept check, money order or cashier’s checks through the mail. Purchase
orders are not an acceptable method of payment.

DEL will continue to work toward developing systems to allow for debit and credit card transactions in the near future, please look for further communication about this.

Frequently asked questions:
  • What is ACH? 
    • Automated Clearing House (ACH) is an electronic network for financial transactions in the United States. ACH processes large volumes of credit and debit transactions in batches. ACH credit transfers include direct deposit, payroll and vendor payments.
  • Why is it a secure way to pay? 
    • If you're concerned about security, ACH is a safe way to pay. You only need to expose your bank account information once – when you sign up for electronic payments – as opposed to every month if you write checks monthly. Unlike wire transfers, ACH payments are not immediate and irrevocable. 
  • When will DEL allow credit card payments? 
    • DEL fiscal and background check unit staff members are working on developing a system that will allow for secure and verified credit card payments. Please look for more communication regarding this in the future. 
  • Does DEL allow purchase orders? 
    • Not at this time. The approved ways to pay the background check fee are by check, money order, cashier’s check or via ACH. 
  • Where can I find my routing and account numbers? 
    • At the bottom of a check, you will see three groups of numbers. The first group is your routing number, the second is your account number and the third is your check number. See the image for reference. 
Do you have additional questions? Please refer all background check questions to the background check mailbox or 1.866.482.4325 #4.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

State-funded PreK (ECEAP) Releases Eligibility Data

The Washington State Caseload Forecast Council (CFC) is required by RCW 43.88C to forecast the number of children who are eligible, as defined in RCW 43.215.405(5)(a), to participate in and the number of children actually served by the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) - Washington's State-funded preschool program.

By the 2020-21 school year, all eligible children shall be entitled to enroll in ECEAP, per RCW 43.215.456.
Because of this, the Legislature added 1,700 slots to ECEAP in the 2013-15 biennium and 1,600 in 2015-17. In the 2016-17 school year, ECEAP has 11,691 enrollment slots.
  • There are 23,445 children eligible for ECEAP who are not served by ECEAP or Head Start. Based on the November 2016 CFC forecast, 6,314 of these would likely participate if space were available. 
  • We are serving 50 percent of eligible children and 78 percent of children likely to participate.
  • By the 2020-21 school year, an estimated 7,429 more children would participate if space is available.
ECEAP is Washington’s state-funded prekindergarten program that prepares some of the State’s most vulnerable 3- and 4-year-old children for success in school and in life. 
To be eligible for ECEAP, children must be 3 or 4 years old by August 31 of the school year, not simultaneously enrolled in Head Start, and meet one of these requirements:
  • Qualified by their school district for special education services under RCW 28A.155.020.
  • Receiving Child Protective Services under RCW 26.44.020(3) or Family Assessment Response Services under RCW 26.44.260
  • From a family with income at or below 110 percent of the federal poverty guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2016, this is $26,730 for a family of four. This category includes all children in foster care and all families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash grants.
  • From a family that exceeds income requirements, but is impacted by specific risk factors that are linked by research to school performance (for example, child has a parent who is incarcerated or impacted by substance abuse). No more than 10 percent of ECEAP children can be in this “over-income” category, and most children enrolled under this provision are from families under 130 percent of federal poverty guidelines. 
Once eligibility is established, children are prioritized for enrollment in the available ECEAP slots using a weighted statewide priority point system.

To read the entire caseload forecast, go here: ECEAP Caseload Forecast.

Caseload Estimates

DEL recommends a gradual ramp-up, as displayed in the table below, to support a solid foundation for program quality.

Recommended ramp-up of new ECEAP slots

Estimated new enrollment slots needed

Total ECEAP slots

Projections, assuming ECEAP ramp-up

Total ECEAP-eligible
3- and 4-year olds
Served by ECEAP1
Served by Head Start2
Total ECEAP-eligible served by ECEAP or Head Start
Percent of ECEAP-eligible served by ECEAP or Head Start
Percent of ECEAP-eligible, likely to participate3, served by ECEAP or Head Start
Unserved, ECEAP-eligible
Unserved, ECEAP-eligible, likely to participate3

1 Based on proposed ECEAP slot ramp up.

2 The Head Start count is updated annually as part of the February forecast.

3 Likely to participate is based on the CFC assumption that 51% of eligible 3-year-olds and 77% of eligible 4-year-olds will participate.  

 Parents may choose other early learning services or choose to keep children home with them. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Feedback Needed: Early Support for Infants and Toddlers

Prior to the 2016 Legislative session, oversight for the Early Support for Infants and Toddlers program was distributed across multiple agencies. This situation caused confusion and uncertainty for families and providers.

As a result, the Legislature passed a law (SB 5879) that required the following:

  • The Legislature established DEL as the agency of record and gave it full program oversight responsibility. DEL now has the authority to adopt rules related to Part C programs.
  • The Legislature voiced their frustrations with the accounting practices of the program and asked for a full accounting of ESIT expenditures at DEL and OSPI.
  • The Legislature asked DEL to propose a plan for program design and oversight that is due in December. 
Please find the most current version of the Department of Early Learning’s response to SB 5879 below. This document has been revised for clarity based on feedback provide at the October 19, 2016 State Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC) meeting and the October 21, 2016 webinar during which the same information was presented.
We have also included a link to the map of the proposed local lead agency (LLA) regions.

Additional elements of the plan that are yet to be incorporated into the document include:

  • proposed timelines,
  • updated cost study information and other fiscal components of the plan
  • logic model and
  • clarification of feedback from stakeholders (included in tables in the plan).

The next steps and timelines for our response to the legislation are listed below:

  • ESIT’s proposed rules were published in the State Register on Nov. 2 and are posted on DEL’s rulemaking web page. These rules are draft and indicate a direction but would benefit greatly from your input.
    • Creating an easily audited and transparent financial model for the ESIT program is essential to securing future investment and maximizing the amount of services we can deliver with the resources available. 
  • We will submit our draft plan to the Legislature in December. The Legislature will then respond to our plan. If they want changes, more information, etc., they will ask in the 2017 session which begins January 9, 2017.
  • There will be hearings on the proposed plan where testimony is welcome.
Legislative response on our plan and the budget decisions made in the 2017 session will have a profound impact on the direction of the program.

If you have any questions, please contact

The most current version of the Department of Early Learning’s response to SB 5879 is now available on the DEL website.

You can also find the recording of the stakeholder feedback webinar from 10/21/16 posted with the draft plan on the DEL website. This webinar was an opportunity for feedback, questions and answers.

We will be accepting feedback on the plan until November 10, 2016.  Please send any written feedback to Laurie Thomas at

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Support for WA Dual Language Learners to Grow

This month, the Department of Early Learning and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction convened nearly 30 dual language learning experts and advocates for a state-wide Brain Trust on Dual Language Learners (DLLs). 

The group included:
  • educators, 
  • parents, 
  • administrators, 
  • researchers, 
  • academics, 
  • state agency representatives, 
  • representatives of the philanthropic community, and 
  • early childhood advocates from some of Washington’s most diverse communities. 
The result was lively discussion about how best to recognize, support, and cultivate Washington’s rich language diversity in preschool through third grade settings.

Washington State is growing increasingly diverse: in May 2014, approximately 10.5% of children enrolled in Washington public schools were speaking English as a second language. By 2025, The National Education Association predicts that nearly one out of every four students will be an English language learner (OSPI, 2016).  

At DEL, we know that the brain science tells us that children learn language easily when they’re young, and dual language learners are an asset to our state. However, we recognize that our early learning system is not well equipped to support these young learners in the best way possible, and our early learning professionals don’t have the tools they need to ensure these children thrive.

The Brain Trust convening explored the need for a more culturally and linguistically responsive system at all levels, including family and community engagement, classroom practice, professional development, assessment, and administrative support. Joanne Knapp-Philo, Ph.D., the former director of the National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness, facilitated the discussion and helped the group understand this work in the context of other promising efforts around the nation. This includes the recently released White House policy statement on Supporting Dual Language Learners in Early Learning Settings. We are excited to join the federal government in forging new ground to support all of our diverse students.

Attendees of the first DEL/OSPI-sponsored Brain Trust on Dual Language Learners pose together for a photo after two days of information sharing and deliberation.
While this meeting was a major step forward for prioritizing DLLs across our early childhood education systems we hope to continue getting input from the field before ultimately deciding on a shared vision for the state. We hope that, in gathering wisdom from such a wide range of stakeholders, we can honor the many complexities of this issue while promoting collaboration at every level.

As one of the most diverse states in the country, Washington is uniquely poised in the national movement in working to ensure the early childhood field has the resources and guidance they need to embrace the cultural and linguistic assets of this large and growing population of children. As we work to get 90% of kids ready for kindergarten by 2020 and eliminate race and income as a predictor of that success, celebrating and supporting the diverse linguistic talents among our children will be one of the keys to achieving that goal. 

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (2016). A call for equity and excellence for English language learners in Washington. Olympia, WA: OSPI Bilingual Education Advisory Committee. Retrieved from,

Monday, October 24, 2016

Early Learning Health Update: October 2016

Healthy Active Living Learning Collaborative

Call for Applications!

One in four U.S. children under age five is either overweight or obese. These children experience greater school absenteeism, miss learning opportunities, and have increased medical costs. Early education centers have a chance to support national obesity prevention efforts through interventions and supportive policies that promote nutrition and physical activity. The National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness (NCECHW) is now accepting applications from programs to
participate in a Learning Collaborative process. This professional development initiative will give 10 teams the chance to implement healthy active living interventions in their program.

About the Learning Collaborative

Participants will engage in two in-person trainings to build fundamental knowledge and skills. Activities will promote team building and peer-to-peer learning for healthy active living initiatives around several areas. These include staff wellness, nutrition education, physical activity, and family engagement.

In addition, quarterly virtual training and technical assistance will be offered between learning sessions. Teams will use an action planning process to improve program quality. The teams will participate in a final in-person session in order to document successes, best practices, barriers, and implementation strategies.

Who Should Apply?
  • Head Start programs,
  • Early Head Start programs,
  • child care centers,
  • family home child care programs, and
  • preschool programs are eligible to apply.
This training is open to programs with previous experience in implementing policies and practices related to healthy active living, as well as those programs seeking to begin this work in this area.

The Application Process

Selected programs will receive $3,000 each to assist with the costs of facilitating activities that focus on programmatic and policy interventions. For more details about the award, please:

Important Dates and Deadlines

Applications are due no later than 4 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. This includes the Online Application and completed Budget Template. Applicants will be notified of an award decision the week of Nov. 21, 2016. For all other dates, review the full Call for Application Guidelines.

Immunization Reporting: Centers, ECEAP and Head Start

Family home child care programs are not required to report at this time.

Thank you to all of you for reviewing your children’s immunization forms and for those who have already reported! Please remember to submit the required report by November 1, per state law (WAC 246-105-060). Here are a few important immunization updates and resources for early learning programs.

Email all questions related to reporting to:

Annual Immunization Reporting
·        All child care centers, ECEAP and Head Start programs must fill out a reporting form and email or mail it to us rather than filling out a report online. The reporting form can be accessed here. Family home child care programs are not required to report at this time.

·        Look at our web page to find general information about child care reporting.

Immunization Requirements Resources
Parents can request a copy of their child’s Certificate of Immunization Status from our Immunization Information System (IIS). Click here for more information.

·        A new Certificate of Immunization Status will be available in the IIS in the near future. Click here to watch a recorded webinar to learn more about the new CIS.

Thank you very much for all your efforts to promote healthy children!

Department of Health Office of Immunization and Child Profile
PO Box 47843
Olympia, WA 98504-7843
Phone: 360-236-3595

“The Department of Health works to protect and improve the health of people in Washington State.”  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Provider Highlight: ABC Kidcare (Mount Vernon)

ABC Kidcare is a licensed child care provider in Washington State's Northwestern region, in Mount Vernon. This provider has used social emotional learning, healthy activity and parent engagement to prepare kids for Kindergarten!
Kids in licensed child care practicing healthy activity.

Learn more about this provider's successes in this short video courtesy of ABC Kidcare: Provider Highlight.

Please find the script for this video below or downloadable here: SCRIPT.
  • ABC Kidcare offers a unique small group setting where children generally begin their journey with us as infants and continue in the program through graduation into Kindergarten.
  • The transition fosters compassion, life skills, diversity and community-centered love for others and themselves. 
  • Children help each other thrive through responsibility and independence as they move from infancy to self-sufficiency, into preschool years. 
  • We strive to teach acceptance, compassion and love through exposure of diverse cultures, needs and community outreach programs. 
  • Our parent volunteer program encourages parents to come into the child care to teach about their careers, interest and heritage. 
  • Parents are always welcomed and our small group setting, with flexible agenda allows us to accommodate parent’s schedules and availability. 
  • On this day, one mom came to offer a glimpse into her marine biology career with a lesson on ocean life. 
  • To encourage an active lifestyle, this mom shares her interest, turned career, with weekly yoga lessons. 
  • To help promote our inclusive family approach through self-awareness, one of the first welcoming scenes in ABC Kidcare is the child cubbies with their family photos. 
  • This is continued throughout the children’s day beginning in infancy with our family photo albums. 
  • Our strong parent support network is built on group outings, parent support groups and cooperative babysitting exchanges—allowing parents to be connected with each other. This not only fosters an important teacher/parent relationship, but it is a community approach to parent-to-parent support. 
  • There is a huge benefit for the children to see the adults in their lives working together. 
  • The strong sense of community continues long after the children’s time at ABC Kidcare. With a smooth transition into Kindergarten, many families will continue to come to group events and stay connected to one another.
Know of a child care provider in your community that is willing to share positive experiences within their curriculum? Reach out to

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Washington State Department of Early Learning and its affiliates, or its employees.

Monday, October 10, 2016

State Tests How to Best Support ECEAP Providers

Last summer, the Legislature passed the Early Start Act (ESA) and Governor J. Inslee signed it into law. The ESA improves access to high-quality early learning opportunities and is key to improving child outcomes and strengthening school readiness. To assist with this, DEL explores ways to help child care providers prepare to offer integrated child care and ECEAP services.

DEL contracted with Child Care Aware of Washington (CCA of WA) to conduct a two-year pilot to:

  • Learn what child care providers need to be successful in providing joint ECEAP and child care services. 
  • Develop and test the training and coaching approaches needed in addition to the existing support provided through Early Achievers.
  • The pilot training, toolkit, and methodology (with individualized coaching between each training sessions) worked. Some refinements to training, sequencing, and other supports were also identified. 

Highlighted recommendations:

Training and coaching. Allow time for providers and coaches to build relationships and improve programs. This is key to success.

In the pilot, training cohorts helped providers explore potential consortium or subcontracting relationships early. All participants made progress in their understanding of Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) implementation and are eager to continue despite lack of ECEAP slots. Most participants wanted to reach Early Achievers level four before adding ECEAP.
“The training really sparked my thinking of next steps regarding staffing, professional development, program oversight and implementation of the standards.”

Pilot participant 
Additional coaching is needed in offering comprehensive services, serving English language learners (ELL), and serving children with developmental delays or challenging behaviors. ELL participants needed more time to clarify the meaning of some materials. 
Toolkit. The ECEAP Pathway Toolkit (containing visual modules) helped participants to:
  • see what is involved, 
  • understand what implementation looks like, 
  • compare to current practices, and 
  • identify where they need to augment (or confirm what they are already doing); see examples, and reflect on their business to create a realistic plan of action. 
Coach Experience. Have coaches experienced in licensing, Early Achievers and ECEAP, as well as running a child care business. This promotes streamlined conversations, coaching, and participant understanding.

Considerable flexibility was needed to schedule coaching with busy providers. 

DEL also learned from a variety of issues that arose during the pilot, including:

System Issues. Availability of adequate facilities continues to be a challenge in ECEAP expansion. Some providers need increased funding for start-up and/or expansion of their facilities to add ECEAP.

Availability of Early Achievers scholarships and flexibility of the Professional Development plan within the ECEAP Performance Standards provided enough support to meet educational requirements. However, required course offerings are often not available at times or in ways that providers can participate.

Items Requiring Additional Exploration. Because of the lack of available ECEAP slots to implement during the pilot, year two of the pilot will need to explore several topic including, but not limited to:
  • Additional supports for completing the ECEAP application process which can be arduous.
  • Alignment of marketing, prioritization, and enrollment across existing and new contractors.
  • Peer networking so pilot (and future) providers can continue to strengthen relationships.

To read the report and complementary appendices, visit the following links:

To learn more about ECEAP or any of DEL’s programs, go to

Friday, October 7, 2016

Let's Celebrate 30 years of Early Childhood provisions of IDEA

This October marks the 30th Anniversary of the passage of Public Law 99-457,
which established early intervention and mandated preschool special education services as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  These early childhood programs have played a critical role in improving results and upholding the rights of infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families.

Do you know a family that has benefited from early intervention services made available through the IDEA programs?  Invite them to share their story with DEL or the Office of Special Education (OSEP) using the following social media platforms. 

The Early Support for Infant and Toddlers (ESIT) Team will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of IDEA Part B, Section 619 and Part C later this month at the SICC meeting.
The next SICC meeting will be held on October 19, 2016, at: 

       Wenatchee School District Board Room 
       235 Sunset Avenue 
       Wenatchee, WA 98801  

The SICC meeting will be held from 9:00 AM –3:00 PM, and plan to join us immediately following the SICC for the anniversary celebration for PL 99-457!  

If you have questions, please contact: