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 (espaƱol).
  • 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.