Thursday, December 28, 2017

ELAC holds final meeting of 2017

The Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) held its final meeting of the year on December 5 in Seattle. Regional Advisor Enrica Hampton set an uplifting tone for the meeting by asking attendees what they are looking forward to most with the transition to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). Responses varied, but a reoccurring theme is that many are hopeful about the positive change the transition will bring for families and children.

“What I really appreciate about this transition is that the family is core and central. Research is showing children and families need to be the focal point and I am glad that Washington State agencies are responding to that research appropriately,” said Catherine Duffy, the Developmental Disabilities Community representative.

The meeting progressed with an agenda providing the opportunity for the Department of Early Learning (DEL) to update attendees on topics such as the Early Start Act (ESA) Report, Market Rate and Cost of Quality surveys, regionalization, and general department updates.

Vickie Ybarra, Research Director of DCYF, gave an update about the ESA report and shared how she and her team are using research and data to better understand the various factors that are impacting children, families, and providers in regards to childcare. Some factors that directly link to a shortage in family home providers was the potential impact of Early Achievers requirements, providers retiring, and providers exiting because their child has phased out of the system. 

DEL Director Heather Moss responded to the decline of family home care. “We have not seen a decrease in children served, but a decrease in family home care. Not a decrease in care, but in choice of care.”

Following the ESA report, attendees had the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the Market Rate and Cost of Quality surveys. Although DEL is only required to send out the Market Rate survey, Director Moss highlighted that by providing both surveys, “It will allow us to quantify what the market is bearing, versus what providers are charging and allows comparison for subsidy rate and how we identify them in the future and the costs associated with licensing and regulatory changes.”

With a goal of having a 75 percent response rate, members of ELAC stepped up to say they would commit to helping DEL by sharing information about the survey with providers in their area. 

Director Moss gave a brief overview of possible DCYF Regional Structures and asked attendees how they would like to be involved in conversations about regions. With a final decision being made by the end of December many attendees voiced ideas and recommendations such as ensuring that tribal nations stay intact and perhaps following a structure similar to the Educational Service Districts.

Following lunch, DEL Assistant Director Frank Ordway took questions and touched briefly on general DEL updates regarding the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program Expansion Think Tank, Early Childhood Education Workforce Council, Attendance Project, and Negotiated Rule Making. 

To conclude the meeting, attendees were asked about the development of a reflection report that would highlight all of the work done by ELAC in 2017. The hope is to develop a report that not only captures the accomplishments of the group, but can be shared with those outside of ELAC.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Request for Application for ECEAP Expansion Released

Are you interested in becoming an ECEAP provider? The Department of Early Learning (DEL) has released the Request for Application (RFA) for ECEAP Expansion for 2018-19!

DEL is excited to release this RFA for 1,000 ECEAP slots starting in the 2018-19 school year. ECEAP is Washington's pre-kindergarten program for low income 3- and 4-year-old children and their families. To promote school success, ECEAP provides preschool education, family support, and health and nutrition services. Research shows high-quality early learning programs like ECEAP save states money over the long run by reducing the need for remedial services in schools, social services, and criminal justice.

The RFA has been released on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 and is open to current and potential ECEAP providers. Here are some key pieces of information for this process:

·      When are applications due?
Applications are due Friday, March 2, 2018.

·      Where can I find the application materials?
All RFA materials can be found on DEL's ECEAP website at:

·      How can I learn more about the RFA for ECEAP Expansion?
Two applicants’ webinars are available to attend in January. These webinars are open to all interested applicants. During the webinar, participants will be oriented to the RFA and be able to ask questions. The two options available are:

o   Friday, January 26 at 6:00 p.m.: Click to Register Here
o   Monday, January 29 at 10:00 a.m.: Click to Register Here

·      Who do I ask if I have questions about the RFA for ECEAP Expansion?
For questions about the RFA process, please email the ECEAP Expansion RFA Coordinator at 

Questions will be gathered and responded to weekly. In addition, a Question and Answer (Q&A) document will be uploaded to the DEL ECEAP website and updated weekly throughout the RFA process.

ECEAP is a high-quality preschool option for eligible children and families. You can help 3- and 4-year-old children in your community be ready for kindergarten! If you are interested in learning more about the impact ECEAP makes on children, families, and communities, please read the 2016-17 ECEAP Outcomes Report.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New Paid Sick Leave Law takes effect January 1

Dear Child Care Providers,

As you may know, the state of Washington has a new Paid Sick Leave Law, which was approved by voters in 2016 as part of the initiative that raised the minimum wage. This new law takes effect on January 1, 2018.

If you are an employer, you will be required to make sure your record keeping systems are ready to track and allow your employees to use sick leave. You also need to make sure your employees know about the new changes. If you are an employer and want more information on the new Paid Sick Leave Law, you can:
  • Register for an employer webinar through the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries here.
  • Read more employer information on the law here.

If you are an employee, you may be entitled to paid sick leave beginning January 1, 2018. Most employees will accrue paid sick leave at a minimum rate of 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Both full-time and part-time workers are entitled to sick leave. If you are an employee and want more information on the new Paid Sick Leave Law, you can:
  • Read more about your rights under the new Paid Sick Leave Law here (español).
  • Read an overview of all your rights as a worker here.

If you have questions about the new law, please contact the Department of Labor & Industries at (866) 219-7321 or

Heather Moss
Department of Early Learning

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Indian Policy Early Learning members discuss upcoming transition, DEL programs

The Indian Policy Early Learning (IPEL) advisory group met for their most recent meeting on November 16, 2017 to provide input on upcoming changes to early learning in Washington. The meeting, hosted by the Squaxin Island Tribe at the Little Creek Casino and Resort, was attended by representatives from 23 of Washington’s 29 federally recognized tribes and 16 elected tribal leaders.

The meeting began with a joint discussion with the Department of Social and Health Services’ (DSHS) Indian Policy Advisory Committee (IPAC) about future changes at DEL. Notably, the two committees discussed the transition to the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), which DEL will join next summer. Children’s Administration, which is currently a part of DSHS, will also become part of the new department.

DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter engaged with IPAC and IPEL members in a discussion about how DCYF and Washington’s tribes will work together moving forward. Secretary Hunter acknowledged that government policies have had a disproportionate and negative impact on children of color, and particularly tribal children.

“We can’t do this without partnerships with the tribes,” he said of the transition.

Tribal representatives expressed a hope to see a deeper understanding from DCYF of what tribal sovereignty is and how tribal governments function. Some also sought stronger government-to-government relations, in part through the hiring of staff members at DCYF who understand and have empathy for tribal communities and children.

With the new DCYF, “we have an opportunity to create a durable working relationship” with the tribes, Secretary Hunter said.

After the joint DCYF discussion, IPEL members remained to conduct their regular meeting. They heard updates from several DEL programs and offered input on proposals from DEL staff. Some of these programs seek to work collaboratively with tribal nations through the hiring of people to work specifically with tribal communities.

Washington’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), which offers free early learning programs to low-income families across the state, hopes to expand access to the program to more tribal communities. Currently, ECEAP serves 225 tribal children in 8 programs. Through the creation of an IPEL workgroup, DEL hopes to build an ECEAP program that works for more tribal families.

The tribes’ input was also sought on how to do consultation for an upcoming deadline for the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), a federal and state partnership program that funds child care programs for low-income families.

The next IPEL meeting has not been scheduled but will take place in early 2018. To keep up to date on IPEL activities, visit DEL’s Tribal Nations webpage. Contact DEL Tribal Liaison Tleena Ives at to be added to the IPEL e-mail list.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

How DEL manages and maintains records

Lately, there have been a number of records issues in both the state and national news. Elected and appointed officials have received attention for everything from failing to disclose records to poor records management policies and procedures.

The Department of Early Learning takes document management very seriously and works hard to ensure that our records are well maintained. There are a number of ways to make sure that our records are kept in a manner consistent with the guidelines set forth in RCW 40.14. The office of the Secretary of State gives state and local agencies guidelines on proper record keeping as well.

There are two ways in which records are classified: the first way is through the State Government Records Retention Schedule – Version 6.0, which classifies a number of commonly used records that span throughout the entire state government. The second is through agency-specific retention schedules. Depending on the type of record, DEL maintains records for between 6 months and 25 years before destroying them. Records Retention Schedules for the State of Washington are held on the Washington Secretary of State website

One way records are maintained by the state is the State Records Center, which is operated of the Office of the Secretary of State. To find more information on the State Records Center please visit the Secretary of State's website

Another way the agencies’ records are kept is via in-house file cabinets and internal electronic records management systems. We are currently undergoing a large records management project in which we are working to move as many records to the State Records Center as is possible. This is in anticipation of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) merger between DEL and certain offices of DSHS per HB 1661.

In the upcoming months, DEL will work with our counterparts at DSHS to ensure that all records and retention schedules are seamlessly merged and transferred over to the new DCYF on July 1, 2018. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

DEL seeks Early Adopters for new attendance system!

Español | Soomali

Hey subsidy providers: we have a great opportunity for you to voice your opinions and help other providers in your community! The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is seeking 200 child care providers to test out and provide feedback on our new electronic attendance system!

These “Early Adopters” will be able to try out the system before next spring, when it will be rolled out to all subsidy providers who don’t already have electronic attendance systems. Early Adopters will receive an orientation on the system and test it out in their own care settings. Then, they will provide their feedback on the system.

DEL will use this feedback from the Early Adopters to improve the system and adjust the orientation to better accommodate all providers, including those who have limited technological expertise.

Washington’s electronic attendance system was created because the federal government is requiring that we improve our attendance recordkeeping for child care subsidies. This new system will not only meet that requirement, but will save providers time, cost taxpayers less, and reduce attendance inaccuracies.

The new system is a simple, easy-to-use software program that works on an electronic device such as a tablet, smartphone, or computer.

Why should I volunteer to be an Early Adopter?
There are several benefits to becoming an Early Adopter of the electronic attendance system. Early Adopters will:
  • Be among the first to try out this new system, which will soon be deployed in child care centers and family homes, and to Family, Friends, and Neighbors (FFN) providers across the state;
  • Be able to make the orientation and the system better for other providers in their communities;
  • Receive monetary compensation for the time they spend participating in the orientation and testing this new electronic attendance system; and
  • Be fluent in system use by the time mandatory use is required in July 2018 for providers accepting subsidy families. 

What would I need to do as an Early Adopter?
Electronic attendance system Early Adopters are required to:
  • Fill out an initial survey to indicate their interest in being an Early Adopter;
  • Participate in the orientation for the new electronic attendance system;
  • Use the system where they provide care for one week; and
  • Complete a feedback survey about their experience with the orientation and another about using the system.
We anticipate that Early Adopters will need to spend no more than five hours outside of working hours participating in the orientation, setting up the system, and providing feedback.

Who can become an Early Adopter?
DEL is looking for a wide range of childcare providers to test out the system. We want to represent child care providers across the state, including rural and urban providers; child care centers, family home providers, and FFN providers; and providers who speak languages other than English. Because we are looking for a representative group of Early Adopters, not all those who volunteer will be chosen to participate.

If you are interested in becoming an Early Adopter of the electronic attendance system, complete this online form by December 15. Early Adopter applicants will be notified as to whether they have been chosen by January 1, 2018.

For more information on the electronic attendance system, including a complete timeline of the system’s roll-out, visit the Attendance Project website. If you have questions about the electronic attendance system or the Early Adopters phase of the project, e-mail the Department of Early Learning at or call (360) 725-4430.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Five Children's Books to Support Healthy Families

The research and information about ACES – Adverse Childhood Experiences – is critical in helping us better support children and families who have experienced trauma. But it’s even more critical to focus on what individuals and communities can actually do to help alleviate the negative effects of ACES. In Pierce County, our early learning coalition, Project Child Success, is using the Five Protective Factors as a framework for our efforts.

The Five Protective Factors are the foundation of the Strengthening Families Approach:
  1. Parental resilience
  2. Social connections
  3. Concrete support in times of need
  4. Knowledge of parenting and child development
  5. Social and emotional competence of children.
Research studies show that when these Protective Factors are well established in a family, the likelihood of child abuse and neglect diminishes. They also build on a family’s strengths and place hardship in context.

We can support the protective factors in our communities and workplaces in large and small ways. One of the small ways the library is supporting them is using picture books to highlight each factor. Here are just a few to illustrate this idea:

Parental Resilience
Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley
Buckley misses his Papa and each day gathers driftwood to make a boat, attaching a note to it and sending it adrift to wherever Papa is now. Bagley effectively uses an animal family in this beautiful story of grief, resilience, and love.

Social Connections
Grandma’s Tiny House: A Counting Story by JaNay Brown-Wood
There are so many wonderful things about this book! It counts beyond 10, is filled with joy and connection, and a child is the one to solve the problem. Celebrating friends and family gatherings is a wonderful way to highlight the importance of social connections.

Concrete Support in Times of Need
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
Every Sunday, CJ and his Nana ride the bus to the same place. CJ complains, but Nana always seems to have a loving way to respond. This lovely book (A Newbury winner!) promotes a place that offers concrete support in times of need. But CJ’s Nana’s approach to life does the same.

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee
This hilarious book illustrates all the exhaustion, efforts, and love that is required of all new parents. A must read for every new parent.

Social Emotional Competence of Children
Wild Feelings by David Milgrim
This funny book features many similes that English speakers use to describe feelings. It also delivers a comforting message about big feelings (with many laughs along the way).

Picture books are a creative way to approach difficult feelings, events, and challenges. They are one small way to promote the protective factors and offer gentle support for families. Your local librarian can help you find more wonderful books that your children and families will love.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Compensation Technical Workgroup Needs You! (UPDATED)

UPDATE: The deadline for applications to the Compensation Technical Workgroup has been extended to November 27 at 12 p.m. Download the application here:

The Department of Early Learning is looking for members from Washington’s early learning community to serve on the Compensation Technical Workgroup. Workgroup members will inform strategies to increase childcare workforce wages and retention rates.

The Compensation Workgroup will be led by DEL and will include 13 representatives from state and federal agencies and the early learning community. Learn about the current progress on compensation efforts for early learning professionals and the scope and structure of the Compensation Technical Workgroup here:

Apply to become a member!

DEL is now accepting workgroup member applications from various community organizations that have seats on the Compensation Workgroup. If you are interested, submit your application and select the community group you represent:
  • A coalition of organizations representing nonprofits, professional associations, businesses, and industries in early learning
  • A representative from an Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP)
  • A representative from a nonprofit child care center
  • A representative from a private child care center
  • A representative from an organization that provides culturally responsive services for early learning programs in communities with high numbers of families whose primary language is not English
For information about member responsibilities and application instructions, download the member application at In order to be considered, applications must be completed and sent in by November 10, 2017.

For more information about the Compensation Technical Workgroup, visit

Monday, October 30, 2017

8 Stay-Safe Tips for Trick-or-Treating with Young Kids

Halloween is a night full of treats, tricks, and lots of fun for those who participate – as long as you play it safe. Dimly lit streets and costume mishaps can turn a delightful night into a potentially dangerous situation. Here are some important steps that parents and caregivers can take to protect their little pirates and princesses on All Hallows’ Eve.

Wear reflective clothing or bright costumes.
Even if you plan on heading out before dark, overcast autumn skies can make it difficult for drivers to see you on the sidewalks. Choose brightly colored costumes or attach reflective strips or accessories to you and your child. Bring along a flashlight in case you’re out later than expected.

Use non-toxic makeup and remove it before bed.
Make sure the makeup you choose is non-toxic and kid-friendly. If you’re planning on covering your child’s face, test it out on your child’s skin a day or two beforehand. Watch out for any redness or itchiness, because this may be a sign of an allergy. Make sure to remove all makeup before bed to prevent skin irritation.

Choose safe costumes and props.
Go for fire-resistant wigs and comfortable shoes. Tie shoelaces tightly to avoid tripping, and skip full-face masks – these can block your child’s vision and interfere with breathing. When choosing props, opt for flexible swords, wands, and other accessories.

Plan a safe route.
Choose a route in advance that has lots of lighting and sidewalks or wide shoulders. This way you’ll be able to be aware of your surroundings and away from busy traffic.

Always accompany young children.
Do not let your young children trick-or-treat on their own. Plan on walking with them or sending them out with another trusted adult. If you have older kids who are going out unsupervised, make sure you know their route and discuss safety in advance.

Practice street safety.
Remind young kids to hold your hand before crossing the street and use crosswalks when they are available. Keep your eyes on the road and not on your phone. If you plan on snapping shots of your kids in costume, stay alert and do so in a safe place away from the street.

Avoid unwrapped treats.
Before letting your kids dig in, check candy packaging to make sure it’s secure. Toss any candy without wrappers or with torn packaging.

Limit candy consumption.
With a bucket full of candy, it’s easy for kids to overdo it. Limit your child’s consumption to avoid an upset stomach later.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

ECEAP report highlights program’s successes

The Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, more commonly known as ECEAP, is helping thousands of Washington children from low-income families prepare for kindergarten. The annual ECEAP outcomes report for the 2016-2017 school year reveals that the program is successfully guiding the majority of enrolled 3- and 4-year-olds to kindergarten readiness in all developmental domains.

“ECEAP continues to be one of the most important strategies for getting low income and at-risk children ready for kindergarten,” said Heather Moss, director of the Department of Early Learning, for the report. “The results are clear – this is a proven, effective program that is improving the trajectory of children’s lives across our state.”

At the end of two years of ECEAP, 67 percent of 4-year-olds are ready for kindergarten in all six developmental domains measured; 89 percent are ready in at least five of the six domains. Even after a single year of ECEAP, 82 percent of 4-year-olds are ready for kindergarten in at least five domains. Students are assessed three times a year in social-emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy and mathematics development using the Teaching Strategies GOLD® assessment.

Compared to other kindergartners from low-income families, ECEAP graduates have higher rates of readiness, even though ECEAP children come from families in greater poverty, on average.

Many parents have praised ECEAP for the difference it has made for their children.

“My daughter had the benefit of attending ECEAP at age 3 and 4,” said one parent, as quoted in the report. “She has developed all the skills that her brothers did not until at least half way through kindergarten or even in first grade. I believe that this program has had a massive lifelong positive impact on children’s lives.”

In addition to preparing Washington children for kindergarten, the ECEAP program also seeks to improve kids’ health outcomes and strengthen their families. Upon enrollment, 4 percent of ECEAP children lacked medical coverage and 16 percent lacked dental coverage. At the time of graduation, all children had medical coverage and only 2 percent lacked dental coverage. The vast majority of children who were behind on well-child exams and dental care also caught up by the time they exited the ECEAP program. Many ECEAP families set goals in areas such as developing parenting skills or increasing financial security. Families made progress on these goals through ECEAP’s Mobility Mentoring program.

“ECEAP has provided critical support to our family this year,” said one ECEAP parent quoted in the report. “It has greatly reduced the financial stress on our family, allowing us to meet medical needs and to maximize our work opportunities. Our family is functioning better overall thanks to ECEAP.”

During the 2016-2017 school year, ECEAP served 11,691 children in 352 locations across Washington state. A total of 80 percent of those students were at or below the federal poverty level. Most ECEAP children identify as Children of Color: 35 percent are Hispanic of any race, 12 percent are Black, and 4 percent are American Indian/Alaska Native.

The state of Washington plans to expand ECEAP to serve every eligible child – more than 19,000 kids – by the 2022-2023 school year. The written Expansion Plan will be available in late fall 2017. You can read the full 2016-2017 ECEAP Outcomes Report on the Department of Early Learning website.

Monday, October 23, 2017

ELAC's October meeting touches on DCYF, other topics

The Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) had a full agenda at its daylong October 3 meeting in SeaTac. The full room included ELAC’s newest members, state legislators, and visiting parents from the Department of Early Learning’s Parent Advisory Group.

One of the big questions on the table is how advisory councils like ELAC will evolve or change as DEL becomes the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). Councilmembers provided feedback on the transition and what they envision for the future of early learning in Washington state. Many members stressed the importance of keeping early learning a focus of the new agency, while at the same time putting DEL’s collaborative culture to work for even more Washington families.

For DEL and for many ELAC members, the transition to DCYF represents an opportunity to build even more relationships with Washington communities.

“I think the legislature recognized that in order to have a system that truly supports children, youth, and families that the new department needs to be both informed by, directly partner with, and be held accountable by communities in the state, and in particular communities that have the greatest needs,” said Frank Ordway, DEL’s assistant director of communications and government relations. “It’s just an unbelievable opportunity to reset the relationship between the state government and communities within the state.”

In the coming months, DEL will continue to seek the input of advisory groups as it transitions into DCYF, both during meetings and through other stakeholder outreach in the near future.

Other highlights of the October ELAC meeting included:
  • An update from the negotiated rulemaking team. This group of parents and providers is reviewing licensing regulations in an attempt to clarify, simplify, and remove redundancies in child care rules.
  • A discussion on the Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) program and how to maintain continuous, uninterrupted services during the transition into DCYF. ELAC members stressed the importance of placing families’ needs front and center as part of the WCCC program moving forward.
  • An initial discussion on ELAC members’ priorities for 2018.
  • A panel of members of the Parent Advisory Group (PAG). Nine of the 18 parents in PAG attended the ELAC meeting and shared their views on choosing child care and on various types of childcare. They also answered questions from ELAC members.

One of those PAG members, Teneille Carpenter, was recently appointed to ELAC. She and her husband have been foster parents for 16 years, and 7 of their 9 children were adopted from Washington’s foster care system.

“Many of my children have come from trauma and have required special services,” Carpenter said. “In finding the services for my children, we have a lot of learning and growing to do as a family. It’s not intuitive and it’s not something we were prepared for from the beginning.”

Becoming a part of PAG nearly three years ago helped her give a voice to families like hers, she said. Now, as a part of ELAC, she can bring her perspective to a different group of influencers.

“What I love about ELAC is that they value the input of parents,” she said. “It’s a specific strength of ELAC and the Department of Early Learning in general, they just create an environment where you feel empowered to use your voice to change things but also to help inform people.”

Carpenter also hopes to bring her perspective as a parent in rural Grays Harbor County, where many families struggle to access care.

Carpenter is one of many new ELAC members. Carlina Brown-Banks was appointed to the committee by the Washington State Commission of African American Affairs. As the family engagement manager at the Road Map Project and a mother of 7 kids, she recognizes the importance of engaging children and families as early as possible.

“Early learning is the basis of the outcomes of families,” Brown-Banks said. “If we can get a strong early learning foundation for families…it will build better opportunities for children over the long haul.”

Brown-Banks, who has been recognized by the White House as a Champion for Change, also stressed the need for more diverse voices in discussions on how to support children and families.

Another new ELAC member is Susan Anderson-Newham, the early learning supervising librarian for the Pierce County Library System. As the Washington Library Association representative to ELAC, Anderson-Newham hopes to share with others what the state’s libraries can do for providers. It’s easy to forget all the free resources that libraries can provide – everything from trainings to pre-school story time, she noted.

Sharing resources, ideas, and perspectives can ultimately help Washington’s children, she said.

“If we could all start swimming in the same direction then we could create real movement in the water,” she said. “That’s sort of what we’re looking for is to try to sort of align, partner better, not recreate the wheel, share resources, share ideas.”

Also in attendance at the October 3 meeting were two of ELAC’s legislative council members, Senator Mark Miloscia of the 30th legislative district, and Representative Tana Senn of the 41st legislative district.

The next meeting of the Early Learning Advisory Council will take place on December 5. During this meeting, members will have additional opportunities to discuss their priorities for 2018 and the DCYF transition. More details about this meeting will be available in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Meet the Early Achievers Data Collection Team at Cultivate Learning

The Early Achievers data collection team at Cultivate Learning is a group of skilled early learning professionals who have a passion for collecting culturally responsive, reliable, and valid data on the quality of early learning environments. The data is provided to early educators and their coaches so they can collaborate and plan for continuous quality improvement.  

This team is made up of two smaller groups: Community Liaisons and Data Collectors. Both data collectors and community liaisons live, work, and play in the communities they serve. These early learning professionals have, at a minimum, bachelor’s degrees in early learning or a related field and have experience working with young children in early learning environments such as family child cares, large centers, small and non-profit programs, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP); Head Start, Montessori, Reggio, and Waldorf programs.

In addition, Cultivate Learning honors the government-to-government relationship between Washington State’s 29 sovereign nations and the federal and state government through Tribal liaisons and data collectors who have experience working with Tribal communities or are members themselves. The Tribal liaison’s goal is to support Tribes participating, or considering participation, in Early Achievers.

Washington is a diverse state, especially when you look at its youngest residents. Many early learning programs across the state have a language of instruction other than English. Research at the University of Washington’s College of Education emphasizes the importance of encouraging early educators to support a child’s home language. Cultivate Learning offers data collection in many languages. For languages not represented on the team, Cultivate Learning uses an interpreter and headset system for real-time interpretation. Languages currently represented on the team include Cantonese, English, Korean, Mandarin, Somali, Oromo, Tigrinya/Amharic, Uzbek, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Russian.

Meet Jessica, an Early Achievers Data Collector at Cultivate Learning

Cultivate Learning recently caught up with Jessica, a busy Early Achievers data collector in King County, for some perspective on her job.

Hi Jessica, can we ask you a few questions about your work as a data collector? 

Sure, I would be happy to discuss my work!

What inspires you about being on the data collection team?

The data collection team is not only responsible for collecting data for Early Achievers. Our job entails so much more than that. I love how we teach at institutes, participate in Meaningful Makeovers, and are involved in many other projects. Our team comes from diverse cultures, we speak different languages, have different backgrounds and we are all able to come together and work passionately to help children and families. It's a pretty awesome team! 

Do you miss working with children? 

Yes absolutely! It's hard sometimes during the observation watching kiddos from a distance—I just want to spend time and play. However, I know that our work is important and impactful for their future! 

What do you like best about working on the data collection team? 

Being on the data collection team for five years now, I've had the privilege to see all the hard work teachers put into their programs. I'm excited to see more of that!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Letter from the Director: DEL's Budget Request

It’s that time of year again, when DEL submits its budget requests to the Governor’s office for consideration in the next legislative session. This year, however, will be a little unique. Because we’re in a transition phase from being the Department of Early Learning into being part of the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families, our budgeting process is happening in two stages this time around.

Linked here you’ll find the small ask that DEL submitted for two limited technical adjustments:
  • Provide full funding for tiered quality reimbursements to child care providers by adjusting the department’s budget to match forecasted reimbursement levels;
  • Streamline child care services for families experiencing homelessness and ensure compliance with federal law by transferring the budget for the Homeless Child Care Program from DEL to the Department of Social and Health Services (Economic Services Administration).

As I noted in my letter attached to the budget request, these packages constitute a $3.6 million dollar investment that will keep kids healthy and safe by reimbursing child care providers for high-quality child care environments and keep the state in compliance with federal law.

If you’re thinking “that can’t be everything,” I want to remind everyone that this is a supplemental budget year, meaning that the legislature is charged essentially with only taking up budget changes to fix problems. We are limited and focused in what we can request in supplemental years, and you’ll see that reflected in this year’s package. Additionally, the bulk of what would be considered a DEL ask will come out as the budget request of the new DCYF. Look for a post on that complete budget package on the DCYF website later this week.

Thank you to all of our stakeholders and partners who have provided meaningful feedback and advice during our budget development process.

Heather Moss
Department of Early Learning

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Digital Attendance Project Marks Key Progress

As we previously reported in our blog, the Department of Early Learning is purchasing a digital attendance system to simplify and improve how we track children’s participation in subsidized child care. We’ll be replacing manual paper attendance systems with modern, off-the-shelf, cloud-based software. We’re pleased to announce that DEL has signed a contract with a company called Controltec to provide us with our system!

We’re excited to move into the next phase of this project – configuring the purchased system to suit DEL’s needs. Over the next few months we’ll also work with Controltec to train DEL staff on the system so they can provide top-notch support to providers.

The big question on the minds of many providers is “when will this affect me?” Providers who accept state subsidies for child care will be required to use some form of digital attendance system after the full rollout is complete. DEL understands that a new process and technology can’t be simply handed out without support. In phases, DEL will train providers on the new system, ensuring that trainings are delivered in a variety of ways and languages.

Beginning in January, 2018 we will start with an “early adopters” phase of the system roll-out. This will give us the opportunity to test out our training and deployment methods with a small cross-section of providers before the full roll-out. Then, with lessons learned from that effort, we’ll conduct training and make the system available to all providers from late February through March.

We’re still working on the process for recruiting the early adopters, but we know that we’ll be looking for volunteers from family homes, child care centers, and Family, Friends, and Neighbors providers from a variety of communities across the state. Luckily we have a lot more flexibility with this phase than we did with our usability testing, so we’ll be able to engage providers better. We’ll be sure to reach out to you when we have more details about participating in the early adopters group. Keep an eye on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. Our partners at SEIU 925 and Child Care Aware will also help us get the word out.

Want to learn more about the digital attendance project? Visit our webpage to get answers to frequently asked questions at

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Washington Enlists Video Coaching to Support Nurturing and Development

Washington State has been utilizing a new and unique way to support healthy brain development of young children and positive relationships between children and their caregivers. It’s a video coaching program that uses the concept of serve and return interactions, called Filming Interactions to Nurture Development (FIND). Dr. Phil Fisher and his colleagues at the University of Oregon developed the FIND model to support interactions between one caregiver and one child.  The FIND development team at the University of Oregon, the Washington State Department of Early Learning and Children’s Home Society of Washington, have co-created a model of FIND for use in early childhood settings.

FIND was developed as part of the Frontiers of Innovation at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, and is an example of putting researchers and practitioners together to advance science-based innovations that can be expanded to serve more young children and families.

What is FIND?
Coaches trained in FIND film interactions between the child and their caregiver for 10 minutes as they engage in everyday activities such as playing a game or having a snack. Films are edited into short clips by a team at CHSW. After editing, a FIND coach shows the caregiver the video of positive interactions with a child. Coaches emphasize the caregivers’ strengths and understanding of how engaging positively with the child promotes positive brain development.

Expanding FIND around the state
In 2013, FIND was implemented in a licensed family child care home in Richland, Washington called “Hope for the Future Childcare.” This small-scale road test demonstrated the feasibility and utility of implementing FIND in the context of child care.

Targeted FIND coaching for infant-toddler caregivers was conducted in a larger pilot in 2015 with 16 child care providers in one region of the state.  The goal of the pilot was to demonstrate that FIND could be used in formal child care and early learning settings. Positive outcomes from the pilot resulted in DEL implementing FIND across the state as part of Washington State’s child care quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), Early Achievers.  Adding FIND to Early Achievers will help to improve the quality of child care for infants and toddlers.

In order to increase the amount of FIND coaching, in January 2016, four randomly selected regions of the state began FIND with infant-toddler classrooms. The remaining six regions began implementation in July 2016. During the first year of FIND coaching, 189 caregivers completed the FIND program.  The impact can be heard in this quote from a teacher “I realized that my work with infants and toddlers has a big impact on their development and their future. I want every infant-toddler teacher to take this coaching.”

The project also involves training and certification of regional infant toddler consultants as FIND coaches who support child care providers through the state. Twenty-one FIND coaches were trained in coordination with the FIND development team at University of Oregon and Children’s Home Society of Washington.

Data collection during the first year of FIND was completed and is currently being analyzed by the FIND Development Team at the University of Oregon and researchers at the University of Washington. 

To read a set of case studies from this evaluation, click here: To read a full summary of all of the FIND initiatives, click here.