Thursday, March 29, 2018

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

There’s no one solution to keeping kids safe. There’s no one agency, no one organization and no one person that can protect all our children. It takes a village to raise a child. It takes all of us to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Here at Strengthening Families Washington, we support communities that work with families to build Protective Factors and support parents. Parenting is hard and there is no one way to parent.

There are, however, best practices to support all families. Wrapping parents in support using the Protective Factors is both promotive and protective. We encourage programs across the state to support families and help them grow and realize their full potential, just like the children we endeavor to help.

Each year, in April, we highlight our prevention work as part of the national Child Abuse Prevention Month. The pinwheel represents the happy, healthy childhood every child deserves. We will join with organizations across the country to highlight our commitment to happy childhoods and our ongoing prevention work.

In addition to our pinwheels, we also want to invite everyone in Washington to participate in Wear Blue Day on April 6th to stand in solidarity against child abuse. It’s easy – just wear blue!

We work closely with our partners because we cannot do this alone. No one can do this alone. From our family to yours, thanks for your support.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Licensed Centers subcommittee holds first meeting

The members of the Licensed Center Advisory Subcommittee (LCAS) met for the first time last month in Renton. The full-day meeting was held February 20.

LCAS is a subcommittee of the Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC), which addresses the overarching topic of early learning in Washington state. This subcommittee is tasked with identifying and addressing the unique needs and concerns of licensed child care centers in Washington state.

About 30 people, including subcommittee members and DEL staff, attended the first meeting. Among the key concerns for licensed center representatives were recognizing the diversity of child care centers and supporting centers as small businesses.

“As we move forward in this industry we have to ensure we do everything we can to support small businesses,” said Perry Langston, an LCAS member who has been in the child care industry for 30 years. Langston also serves as vice president of the Washington Childcare Centers Association (WCCA).

“We want to be part of the solution,” he said. “If we are willing to adapt to change, to work and collaborate, then I see all kinds of success coming down the pike.”

At the same time, he emphasized that the main focus should be on the children.

“We watch the most precious thing in people’s lives – their children,” he said. “They need to be in an environment where they can live, laugh, love, and learn.”

The primary goal of the meeting was for members to introduce themselves, discuss the subcommittee’s purpose, and develop shared norms and a mission.

With that in mind, one of the first tasks of the LCAS is to develop a work plan for 2018. Some of their tentative priorities include improving communications about regulations changes, building a resource network for at-risk kids, and addressing new education requirements.

“We live and die by the rules being made,” said center representative Renee Hernandez. Hernandez also noted the importance of meeting the individual needs of different centers.

“We don’t want to be reactive anymore,” agreed fellow subcommittee member Julie Schroath. “We want to be involved.”

The group also heard an update from DEL Assistant Director Frank Ordway, who discussed the current legislative session and the upcoming Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

The next in-person LCAS meeting will be held in May. The location has not yet been determined.

The LCAS is currently recruiting members from the following regions: North Central, Olympic-Kitsap Peninsulas, and Southeast (for the regional map, click here). If you are interested in joining the subcommittee, contact slc@del.wa.gov.

Monday, March 19, 2018

DEL evaluates ECE Career Planning Portal

The Department of Early Learning is evaluating the Early Childhood Education Career Planning Portal (ECE Career Planning Portal) and we need your help! 

The ECE Career Planning Portal helps visitors learn about careers in Early Childhood Education, find a certificate or degree program, learn about financial aid, and more! If you use the ECE Career Planning Portal, we want to understand how you use it, what additional information you are looking for, and what we can do to improve it.

Please visit http://bit.ly/Portal_Survey to take the survey. The survey closes April 6, 2018. 

The feedback we gain through this evaluation will help us decide how to make the ECE Career Planning Portal more useful for those looking to enter, or advance their careers in, the early childhood education workforce.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

DEL examines child care centers in second Cost of Quality phase


The second installment of the Cost of Quality series by the Department of Early Learning (DEL) is now available. Last summer, DEL sent a survey to a sample of licensed child care centers to better understand the costs of operating a center and the costs associated with Early Achievers. The researchers were also trying to determine whether certain characteristics of child care centers are related to the Early Achievers quality rating of those centers. Identifying relationships between Early Achievers quality level and various characteristics of centers will allow DEL to effectively invest in continuous quality improvement at child care centers.

Researchers analyzed the relationship between numerous variables and Early Achievers quality level. Using a variety of statistical methods, researchers identified which aspects of child care center facilities, staff, and operations were associated with higher Early Achievers quality levels. The researchers examined center characteristics, staff, enrollment, and costs and revenue.

The analysis did not uncover a single strategy of improving quality, rather a suite of strategies that lead to high-quality child care. Improving the working environment for employees generally appears to improve the level of quality of the center. Researchers determined that wages and the level of assistant teachers’ education were associated with higher quality levels. Less teacher turnover also contributes to higher quality levels. It appears that centers that create a positive job experience are more likely to be high-quality.

Some characteristics that were indicators of quality included: the amount of indoor and outdoor space per child, how long a center has operated, and how diverse a center’s staff is. Other findings remark on the implications of tuition rates. One would expect that the price of a service would be related to the quality of that service. However, researchers determined that tuition has only a modest, positive relationship with quality. This makes it difficult for parents or guardians to know the quality of the service they are buying. Thus, the transparency Early Achievers offers for quality in child care is an important resource for parents and guardians in the state of Washington.

Phase III will be the next part of the Cost of Quality series and will study licensed family home child care. DEL will deploy the survey at the end of March.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

State honors Unsung Heroes at annual awards dinner


Shannon Love was one of 28 Unsung Heroes.

She was honored for her work to reform 
foster care in Washington state.
On a snowy and blustery Feb. 20 night, parents, grandparents, teachers and caregivers from around the state were honored at the annual Unsung Hero awards dinner.

Twenty-eight honorees were selected this year, one for each day in February, for Parent Recognition Month.

These inspiring individuals were selected by a parent panel and represent resilience in our state. They include a grandpa taking on custody of his young grandson, a school counselor who took in three siblings so they didn’t have to be split up, moms who are amazing advocates for their special needs kids and foster parents giving children a stable and loving home. Our focus was to honor heroes that utilize one or more of the Protective Factors:
  • Parental Resilience: overcoming hard times and bouncing back
  • Concrete Supports in Times of Need: knowing where to turn to for help
  • Social and Emotional Competence of Children: knowing how to help children talk about feelings
  • Social Connections: reaching out and knowing who can support you
  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: knowing where to go for information on parenting skills and children’s developmental growth
The night was filled with smiles, laughter and some tears as each honoree’s nomination was read for the group and awards were given by Director Heather Moss. If you would like to read all of the inspiring stories, please visit our partner in the Unsung Hero Campaign, Seattle’s Child Magazine.

Thank you again to everyone who sent in nominations and another round of big congratulations to our 2018 Unsung Heroes!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Electronic attendance system trainings available now

EspaƱol | Soomali


Attention all child care providers accepting subsidy payments: trainings are happening now for the new electronic attendance system!

Starting July 1, 2018, all providers accepting Working Connections Child Care subsidies will be required to track attendance using an electronic attendance system.

This new requirement applies to child care centers, family home child care providers, and Family, Friend and Neighbor (FFN) providers.

Providers have the option to use DEL’s electronic attendance system or another DEL-approved electronic system. DEL is implementing this new system to improve how we track children’s participation in child care. It will track, store, and report on child attendance to support provider billing. The system will save providers time, cost taxpayers less, and reduce attendance inaccuracies.





Our goal is to make this transition as quick and easy as possible. Through the early adopter process, Washington providers have provided invaluable feedback to help us design training that supports a system people will use every day.

What do I need to do?
If you are using DEL’s electronic attendance system, you must:
  • Complete the required training for the electronic attendance system;
  • Set up your electronic attendance system profile; and
  • Begin recording attendance.

How do I complete the training?
The training on DEL’s electronic attendance system is open to all subsidy providers. We encourage all providers to complete their training well before the July 1 deadline.
  • Decide what training works for you. You can choose from three options for training: in person, online, or with a self-paced workbook. Training is available in English, Spanish, and Somali.
  • Find your preferred training here: http://del.wa.gov/Attendance-Support.
  • Request interpretation by contacting electronic.attendance@del.wa.gov or 360-725-4430. 

What if I already use an electronic attendance system?
You are not required to attend a training or use DEL’s electronic attendance system if you already use a DEL-approved system or plan to begin using one. For questions about approved systems, please e-mail electronic.attendance@del.wa.gov. 

Do I get an incentive?
For Family Home and FFN Providers, DEL has negotiated with SEIU 925 a one-time $200 benefit for the first 5,000 who apply for the incentive. Providers must register in MERIT and complete training for the new system to be eligible. The benefit is available on a first-come, first-served basis. This money can be applied toward the cost of purchasing new technology equipment and internet access. This benefit is not available to child care centers.

To request your incentive, visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/APincentive.

What technology will I need?
To use the DEL electronic attendance system, internet access, a tablet, and a printer will be necessary. For best results, DEL recommends a computer, in addition to the tablet, for administrative tasks.

Who do I contact if I need more help?

Want more information? Check out these helpful links:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

ELAC discusses Market Rate Survey, DCYF proposals during February meeting

The Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) held its first meeting of 2018 on February 6. Using the K-20 Education Network, ELAC members participated via video conference from nine sites around the state.

The full-day meeting included updates on DEL’s Quality Practice and Professional Growth (QPPG) division, the 2018 Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) plan, the current legislative session, and the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).

DEL Assistant Director Nicole Rose provided ELAC members with an update on the Market Rate Survey, which was made available to Washington providers in January. ELAC helped revise the survey for the current year and learned during the meeting how their feedback was implemented before the survey was released.

The council was also invited to participate in a webinar next month to review the Cost of Quality survey, which will be released this spring. This survey will help DEL better understand the operating costs of child care facilities.

The QPPG presentation included information on the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) expansion and on efforts to encourage inclusion of children with disabilities in early learning settings. The QPPG division is also working to address issues with provider professional development, including compensation, career pathways, and evaluations of the current workforce.

ELAC members received an update on the CCDF 3-year plan that will be submitted to the federal government by July 1, 2018. The plan will outline the state’s current child care subsidy programs, which are partially funded by federal CCDF grants. Once DEL has drafted a plan, the department will seek input from the community, including from ELAC, on the plan’s contents, repercussions, and changes from the previous plan.

DEL Director Heather Moss also discussed the proposed DCYF regional structure, which was adapted from a six-region map used by the Department of Social and Health Services. Council members expressed a desire to maintain sub-regional identities during the transition. DEL Assistant Director Frank Ordway described the proposed organizational structure for the new department.

The next ELAC meeting will be held April 3 in Tukwila. To keep updated on ELAC’s meetings, DEL's ELAC meeting page

Monday, February 12, 2018

Last negotiated rulemaking session next month

After nine months of negotiating, the Department of Early Learning is planning the last session for negotiating the Standards Alignment licensing rules. Negotiators will meet on March 3 and 4 for a final review of all negotiated revisions. The original draft rules with negotiated revisions can be read online at https://del.wa.gov/PolicyProposalComment/Detail.aspx and DEL is accepting comments through February 22. Comments will be delivered to the negotiators in time to be considered for the final review.

Negotiated rulemaking is when a state agency collaborates with stakeholders who are impacted by a rule to develop and agree to the rule language. Teams representing family home child care providers, center child care providers, parents of enrolled children, Head Start/ECEAP providers and DEL licensing staff began negotiating the aligned standards in June 2017. Each month, a small group with representatives from each team would meet to review draft rules and negotiate revisions. Those revisions were taken to a monthly meeting where all negotiators would discuss, refine and measure consensus.

We have a lot to celebrate as we wrap up negotiations. There are just a handful of sections for which negotiators still have to reach consensus. The high success rate is entirely due to the negotiators’ collaborative spirit and hard work. Each participant was deeply committed and generously gave time and energy – including many weekends – to the project. We are also celebrating transparent negotiations that stakeholders were able to follow by attending a session or watching on DEL’s YouTube channel. During negotiations, more than 1,000 comments were submitted by the public and informed the negotiators’ work.

Statewide, representative stakeholders have contributed during every step of the Standards Alignment project. DEL is committed to continuing to engage with stakeholders once the rules are adopted and implementation begins.

After negotiations are done, DEL expects to file with the Code Reviser proposed rules by May 2 and solicit comments on those rules before adopting final rules at the end of June. After the rules are adopted, there will be a year-long implementation phase before the rules take effect in the summer of 2019.


If you have questions about the negotiated rulemaking process please e-mail rules@del.wa.gov.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Washington’s Unsung Heroes to be honored in February

Parenting: one day it’s dance parties in the kitchen with hugs and kisses, and the next day you’re bribing with fruit snacks to stop the meltdown in aisle 3. Parenting is hard. And some paths are especially challenging for both the parent and the child.

This Unsung Hero was awarded during last year's ceremony.
Gov. Jay Inslee has proclaimed February as Parent Recognition Month, and we are celebrating extraordinary Washington parents with our Unsung Heroes Campaign. The Strengthening Families Team at DEL has had the privilege of hosting a recognition event now for several years and once again we find ourselves inspired by the stories from across the state.

Late last year we opened the nomination process up across the state and received nominations from all over. These nominees are parents, caregivers, teachers and community members who have made a remarkable difference in a child or children’s life. We looked for those who showed strength in the Protective Factors:
  • Parental Resilience – overcoming hard times and bouncing back
  • Concrete Supports in Times of Need – knowing where to turn to for help
  • Social and Emotional Competence of Children – knowing how to help children talk about feelings
  • Social Connections – reaching out and knowing who can support you
  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development – knowing where to go for information on parenting skills and children’s developmental growth

Of the dozens of nominations received, our parent panel selected 28 honorees – one for each day of the month. We will again partner with Seattle’s Child Magazine, who will feature one honoree each day on their website. Be sure to check our Facebook and Twitter feeds to find out each day who the next honoree is. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring and uplifting as we did! And to all our honorees, congratulations!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Help us set subsidy rates by taking the Market Rate Survey

The Department of Early Learning needs your help to better serve the needs of licensed child care providers. We have just launched this year’s leaner, simplified Market Rate Survey. The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete and is open to all licensed providers in Washington state. DEL is required by the federal government to conduct this Market Rate Survey. The results from the survey will be used to inform child care subsidy rates. You can help by taking the survey if you are a licensed provider, and if not, you can help promote it!

DEL has conducted Washington State’s Market Rate Survey since 2007, as the lead agency for the Child Care Development Fund. The survey asks questions about licensed providers' child care and the children they serve. Topics covered include enrollment, private tuition rates, staff education and compensation, and support services offered. The survey includes several important updates this year:
  • DEL is partnering with Public Consulting Group, Inc. (PCG) to deploy the survey.
  • Shorter and more concise format than previous years.
  • Web-based format with email, telephone, and postcard contacts planned.
  • Translations available for providers who speak Spanish and Somali.
  • Telephone interpreters available for additional languages.

To inform subsidy rates, your participation is very important! To reach our response rate goal of 75 percent for licensed centers and licensed family homes, we need your help. DEL would appreciate if you could take the survey, help promote it to other child care providers, or both! Providers can check their email for a link to the survey, subject line “Market Rate Survey.” Or, providers can access the survey at this link: http://surveys.pcgus.com/s3/WADELMRS.

The survey will close April 20 or after we receive our response rate goal, whichever comes first. You can also contact PCG at wamarketratesurvey@pcgus.com or (844) 880-8714 with any questions. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New ELAC subcommittee focuses on licensed centers

A new subcommittee will advise the Department of Early Learning (DEL) on issues specific to licensed child care centers in Washington state. This Licensed Center Advisory Subcommittee (LCAS), a subcommittee of the Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC), will address matters ranging from regulation improvement to staffing challenges, as well as region-specific concerns.

“We decided to support you in a different way by forming this subcommittee primarily out of the recognition that centers deliver the vast majority of our quality early learning service, in particular in service of families that are on the Working Connections Child Care system,” said DEL Assistant Director Frank Ordway at the subcommittee’s first meeting. The meeting was held online in November.

“It’s very exciting to finally see this coming together,” Ordway said.

ELAC has been discussing the formation of this subcommittee for at least two years as a way to give licensed centers more input into proposed policies that affect them, according to Lois Martin, a member of both ELAC and LCAS. This will be particularly important as DEL transitions to the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).

“We want to make sure that all of our voices are still solicited, as well as heard, as we make this transition,” said Martin, who is the director of the Community Day Center for Children in Seattle. “We want to ensure that no one in any of these subgroups (at DCYF) is left behind.”

The new subcommittee will partner with DEL to have conversations about ongoing regulation improvement, rates and rate structures, staffing and professional development, and specific regional challenges, among other topics.

“Overall availability of [licensed centers] in your communities is critical to community health and to economic opportunity for families and so we need more of you,” Ordway told the committee. In particular, he stressed the importance of supporting an environment that is friendly to child care businesses so more providers stay in the market and new providers join.

“We need advice from [licensed centers] on how to do that better,” Ordway said.

For licensed centers, the new subcommittee will give them the opportunity for regular, focused conversations with DEL staff and leadership.

“I represent a lot of centers as well as my own in the Eastern Washington region and also statewide,” said Luc Jasmin, LCAS member and owner and director of Parkview Early Learning Center in Spokane. “It’s a way to really be able to bring thoughts, comments, and concerns to DEL and have that voice.”

Jasmin, who is also president and founder of the Washington Childcare Centers Association, pushed for the formation of the subcommittee to improve communication between licensed centers and DEL.

“My specific goals are to really be able to effectively communicate with the department and also with our membership base in a way that bridges that communication gap so that we’re streamlined and we’re on the same page,” he said.

At the first meeting of the Licensed Center Advisory Subcommittee, members also discussed some of the DEL’s requests for the upcoming 2018 legislative session. Among the DEL’s priorities are to ask for investments in infant and toddler resources and in support for licensed care around the state.

The subcommittee currently has 26 members and 10 unfilled seats. The DEL seeks to find members from underrepresented regions of the state, including north central, southwest, southeast, and Olympic-Kitsap Peninsulas.

The first in-person meeting for the Licensed Center Advisory Subcommittee will take place February 20. If you are interested in becoming a member of the subcommittee, contact slc@del.wa.gov

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

DEL begins drafting Child Care Development Fund Plan

Beginning January 2018, DEL began coordinating drafting of the state’s Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Plan with the goal of submitting a Plan by July 1, 2018. So what does all that mean for Washington families and child care providers?

CCDF is a federal and state partnership program administered by states, territories, and Tribal Nations. They use CCDF grant funds to provide access to child care for low-income families so they can work or attend job training or educational programs. They also invest CCDF funds to build the skills and qualifications of providers, support child care programs to achieve higher standards, and provide consumer education to help families select child care that meets their needs. Working Connections Child Care is one example of a CCDF-funded program administered by DEL, but the grant also funds other DEL activities, including licensing, Early Achievers, and provider professional development.

Under federal law, Washington is required to submit a CCDF Plan every three years in order to continue receiving the CCDF grant. The Plan serves as the application for CCDF funds and describes the state’s child care program and all services available to eligible families. The Plan is developed in collaboration with numerous partners, stakeholders, and tribal governments to ensure that the state’s CCDF program period addresses the needs of families, providers and communities. Once approved by the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF), it allows the state to continue receiving the CCDF grant.

Washington’s current CCDF Plan is set to expire in 2018, so a new plan must be submitted to ACF by July 1, 2018 and to be completely finalized by October 1. On December 8, 2017, ACF released a draft preprinted (Preprint) form to collect all of the required Plan information (see here). With the release of the Preprint, the path is now clear for DEL to begin coordinating plan drafting. Here is how the drafting process will work and how you can participate:
  • Starting in January 2018, DEL will convene an Executive Steering Committee (ESC) composed of representatives of early learning focused organizations, community partners, and government agencies.
  • The ESC will review initial Plan drafts, feedback from partners, stakeholders, and tribal governments, and from the general public, and approve a plan for submission by July 1.
  • In between, DEL will provide the Plan Preprint and Plan drafts to the Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) and Indian Policy Early Learning (IPEL) group for their feedback, starting in February and concluding in April.
  • In May and June, DEL will convene one or more public meetings to receive further community Plan input.
  • Then in June, DEL will convene a public hearing, as required by federal law, to receive formal community input on the draft Plan. DEL will then submit the plan to ACF on July 1.
If it all sounds a bit confusing, take heart. DEL maintains a page on its site here where you will find important updates on the status of the Plan as it develops, as well as information on opportunities to give your feedback, and general information on CCDF. Stay tuned!