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.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Research & Analysis to Support the 90% Goal

DEL’s goal: By the year 2020, 90% of five-year-olds will be ready for kindergarten, with race and family income no longer predictors of readiness.
In Spring 2016 the Department of Early Learning (DEL) established its first ever agency-wide Research & Analysis team, and we’re excited about the opportunity to support the agency’s 90 percent goal. Our team is made up of 2 researchers and 2 analysts whose job it is to make meaning out of data and help inform agency policy decisions. We’re supported by our agency Data Governance Coordinator and the Data Team in DEL’s IT Department who all help make sure we can get access to the data we need.

DEL has always had terrific analysts and data staff embedded in DEL program units to support our different programs – like ECEAP, Early Achievers, subsidy, home visiting, ESIT, and ECLIPSE. DEL’s new Research & Analysis team is building on that past success to explore agency-wide questions that will improve program quality and effectiveness, and help more children prepare for kindergarten.

In our first year we’ve starting producing answers to questions like:
  • How do children who’ve participated in ECEAP perform on WaKIDS kindergarten entry assessments? Why do many children in ECEAP exhibit greater levels of readiness in Spring of their ECEAP year than when they enter kindergarten in the Fall? 
  • What kind of impact are program enhancements like Family Support models in ECEAP and layered subsidy having on child and family experiences in DEL’s programs?  To what extent are DEL’s programs reaching children in need from different racial, ethnic, and language groups across the state? 
  • How is implementation of Washington’s Early Achiever’s Quality Rating and Improvement System impacting providers and children throughout the state? Are the Early Achiever’s policy changes having greater impact on some subgroups of providers and children than others? 

Getting to 90% Ready: Strategies
This graphic is one of the ways the research team tells the story of how DEL is doing at meeting our 90% goal, and how some of our tactics can get us closer to that goal.

In the coming year we’ll be exploring many more questions, including: 
  • To what extent do young children participate in multiple DEL programs? To what extent does participating in multiple early childhood programs help in preparing children for kindergarten? 
  • How does ECEAP dosage effect children’s readiness for kindergarten? To what extent is 2 years better than 1 year, or full-day better than part-day? Where are the greatest dosage gains made, and for which students?  
  • What are the assessment and instructional practices most effective for dual-language learners in ECEAP? What is the gap between what practices are most effective for students and what ECEAP provides? What are the professional development needs of early childhood educators working with dual-language learner students?

The statewide Early Learning Advisory Committee has established a Research Advisory Sub-committee to help advise DEL’s Research & Analysis Team on our work in progress. We’re also actively collaborating with partners at other state agencies, and we’d appreciate your feedback and ideas too. Feel free to contact us at: