Monday, June 18, 2018

ELAC members gather for last meeting under DEL

Members of the Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) gathered for their final meeting under the Department of Early Learning (DEL) earlier this month. The council discussed topics ranging from the new early learning facilities grant program to the July 1 transition to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).


One of the meeting’s highlights was a discussion on the early learning facilities grant program. The program, administered by the Department of Commerce, will provide nearly $15 million in grants and loans for early learning facilities. These grants will reimburse child care providers for up to 75 percent of the total cost of capital projects. Grants can range from $10,000 to $800,000. Eligible providers include those who serve or intend to serve children through the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) or Working Connections Child Care.

The meeting also touched on aspects of the DCYF transition. Members received an update on the new department’s outcome goals and measures, which will serve as the basis for the work of the new department. The goals will focus on the education, health and resilience of children, youth and families in Washington state. ELAC members encouraged the Office of Innovation, Alignment and Accountability to focus on prevention and strength-based resilience measures as they move forward.

Council members also began the task of streamlining the stakeholder advisory process. Both DEL and Children’s Administration, which is also joining DCYF on July 1, meet regularly with groups of stakeholders such as ELAC to get recommendations on policies and programs. Under DCYF, stakeholder groups will be combined, eliminated and added as necessary to establish a more effective advisory system.

“July 1 is just the start date,” said DEL Assistant Director Frank Ordway. “It’s really the beginning of the next chapter of work.”     

Also on the agenda were updates on the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) and the standards alignment process. ELAC members wished a fond farewell to departing member Peter Finch, assistant superintendent at the West Valley School District, who has been an active member on the council for two years.

“I really appreciate the lens you bring, Peter, to this table. Your passion and your energy are very evident when you talk about young children in early learning,” said ELAC Regional Advisor Enrica Hampton. “We’re going to miss you tremendously.”

Although he is leaving the group, Finch said he hopes to attend future meetings as a member of the public.

The next ELAC meeting will be held August 14 in Spokane. For updates on ELAC’s activities, visit https://del.wa.gov/partnerships/elac/meetings.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

LCAS elects co-chairs at May meeting

The members of the Licensed Center Advisory Subcommittee (LCAS) met for their second meeting May 15 in SeaTac. Members elected co-chairs, discussed their priorities for their coming meetings, and heard about the new Early Learning Facilities Fund.

One of the priorities of the meeting was the election of two co-chairs to lead the LCAS. The committee selected two co-chairs from five candidates. Brian Trimble, a child care center director and owner with a background in public schools, and Julie Schroath, a current child care center director and former licensed family home provider, were elected to the positions.


“What I bring to this co-chair position is the commitment to stay engaged and involved in advocacy for issues relevant to early learning centers,” Schroath said. “The staff at Creative Kids Learning Center support my shift in focus to issues larger than our center, because they understand that decisions being made for us, rather than with us, may be well-intended but are not always beneficial for children, families and the employees in the field. Their support is what makes my involvement possible.”

Trimble said he hopes to serve as a liaison between child care centers and the Department of Early Learning (DEL).

“I have a lot of different hats that I wear when it comes to this and I believe in approaching this with a solutions-based philosophy versus identifying problems,” he said. “I also want to be able to listen and take in what people have to say…We should approach it constructively and collaboratively.”

Both Trimble and Schroath are optimistic about the subcommittee’s partnership with DEL and their advocacy for child care centers around the state.

“This is another perfect example of excellent strides toward that partnership approach,” Trimble said. “This is tangible evidence that we’re making a lot of improvements and it’s through the efforts of people being more involved.”

Schroath emphasized the importance of policymakers and bureaucrats listening to those who are in the field.

“The creation of the Licensed Center Advisory Subcommittee provides the opportunity for various agencies and legislators to communicate directly with early learning educators who are providing services to the majority of children and families in Washington,” Schroath said. “As ideas and policy changes are being discussed, including those working directly in the field in these conversations will provide a necessary perspective, leading to more informed policy decisions.”

Trimble and Schroath will help execute the committee’s work plan and support its goals and purpose in coming meetings. During the meeting, the subcommittee reviewed their purpose statement, community agreements and draft work plan. The members noted several priorities for their next few meetings, including professional development, policy and rules development, and the new electronic attendance system requirements.

Schroath presented on her experience serving on the Equivalency Committee. She and other members spoke of the frustration many child care workers are feeling about the new professional development requirements and the strain those requirements will put on centers. Some members expressed a desire for an educated staff, but also wanted alternative options such as work equivalencies to keep qualified employees working. One member suggested that higher subsidy rates could help fund better-educated child care workers.

Subcommittee members also received an update on the Early Learning Facilities Fund project, which is providing nearly $11 million for competitive grants and loans for child care providers. Providers can request anywhere from $10,000 to $800,000 for capital projects, including real estate purchases and building construction. Members asked for clarification on which child care providers are eligible for the funding. The grants are issued for reimbursement only, a requirement the legislature places on capital grants, which some members felt would provide a big hurdle for many providers. The presenters took note of the questions asked and will address them at the upcoming LCAS and Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) meetings.

The next LCAS meeting is on August 13 in Spokane. The subcommittee is still recruiting members from several regions around the state. For more information, contact slc@del.wa.gov.

Correction: A previous version of this blog post stated that Julie Schroath served in the negotiated rulemaking team. She actually served on the Equivalency Committee. While she attended several negotiated rulemaking sessions, she did so as a member of the public, not as someone serving on the team.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

DEL seeking comments on proposed aligned licensing rules

DEL is soliciting comments on its proposed aligned licensing rules. The purpose of the proposed rules is to:
  • align foundational standards of care for early learning programs administered by family home and center child care providers while accommodating unique differences between their environments;
  • better equip early learning providers with the necessary skills and knowledge to administer programs that fully protect the health and safety of children in their care while delivering the best possible care;
  • address critical health and safety needs of children enrolled in early learning programs;
  • promote cultural diversity; and
  • meet federal requirements.

The proposed rules and small business economic impact statement are available at https://del.wa.gov/providers-educators/laws-rules-and-performance-standards/del-rules-under-development/early-start-act.

DEL will accept comments through June 27. Comments may be made online at https://del.wa.gov/PolicyProposalComment/Detail.aspx, by email to rules@del.wa.gov, or in person at one of these hearings:

June 26
6:00 – 7:30
Everett Library Auditorium
2702 Hoyt Avenue, Everett
June 26
7:00 – 8:00
Chehalis Library Meeting Room
400 N Market Blvd., Chehalis
June 27
5:00 – 7:30
Yakima Room, Greenough Conference Center
33 S. 2nd Ave., Yakima

This is the first of three rule making phases under which DEL will adopt the rules negotiated by family home, center, and Head Start/ECEAP providers, families, and DEL Licensors. The three phases are:
  1. Proposed new sections in chapter 170-300 WAC and amended WAC 170-300-0005 Definitions filed in May 2019 with a planned adoption at the end of the comment period. Final rules will be filed with a delayed effective date of Summer 2019;
  2. Proposed amendments to current WACs 170-300-0148 Gardens in outdoor early learning program space, 170-300-0235 Safe water sources, 170-300-0291 Infant and toddler safe sleep practices, 170-300-0400 Application materials, 170-300-0410 License and program location, and 170-300-0465 Retaining facility and program records expected to be filed in February 2019 with a planned effective date of Summer 2019 to coincide with the new rules adopted in Phase 1; and
  3. In 2020, amend chapter 170-300 WAC to insert weights after a weight validated study is conducted.

Monday, May 14, 2018

DEL and the Dept. of Commerce Partner to Support Early Learning Facility Development

In 2018 the legislature invested in the Early Learning Facilities Fund to help providers “expand, remodel, purchase, or construct early learning facilities and classrooms necessary to support state-funded early learning opportunities for low-income children.” The Departments of Early Learning and Commerce are charged with developing the criteria for funding projects through this fund.

Many of you have been waiting anxiously for news about this program, and we are pleased to be able to share with you initial information about eligibility and funding opportunities. Capital grants will be available to eligible organizations including ECEAP and Working Connections Child Care providers, as well as licensed early learning centers not currently participating in ECEAP, but who intend to do so. Grants will cover facility pre-design, renovations, and major construction or facility purchase.

To learn more, visit http://www.commerce.wa.gov/building-infrastructure/capital-facilities/early-learning-program/. This page will be your go-to resource for funding applications, technical assistance, and program guidelines. You can also sign up there to receive email updates when new information is available.

We look forward to the exciting projects this new resource will help fund!

Friday, May 11, 2018

May 11, 2018 is Provider Appreciation Day!

Friday, May 11 is Provider Appreciation Day! Today, DEL recognizes the invaluable role that child care providers and early learning professionals play for our children.

Started in 1996 by a group of volunteers in New Jersey, Provider Appreciation Day is appropriately celebrated each year on the Friday before Mother’s Day. The founding organizers saw the need to recognize the tireless efforts of providers who care for children of working parents.

Parents are children’s first and most important teachers but regular caregivers, child care providers and early learning teachers are a close second. It takes a dedicated, energetic and giving person to guide, play, redirect, comfort and teach our littlest learners…not to mention, the immune system of a super hero!  

Thank you for your commitment, your love for the children in your care, and for the positive impact you have on our children.

Click here to learn more about Provider Appreciation Day. Share your stories of great child care providers with us on Facebook or on Twitter @DEL_wa! #ProviderAppreciationDay

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Parent Advisory Group gathers for April meeting

At the most recent Parent Advisory Group (PAG), the Department of Early Learning (DEL) sought input from its parent advisers about budget priorities and long-term early learning goals. The meeting was held April 4 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Tukwila following the meeting of the Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) on April 3.

The day began with a discussion with Chris Stanley, DEL budget director. Stanley provided PAG members with an introduction to the budget process and sought input on DEL’s budget priorities. Parents praised DEL’s home visiting programs, Head Start and ECEAP programs, and parent engagement initiatives. They said they would like to see more funding to support behavioral health and provider training, for extended ECEAP services such as full-year, full-day, and extended-day services, and for subsidy rate increases, especially for infant and toddler care.

At lunch, Vickie Ybarra, director of the Office of Innovation, Alignment, and Accountability at the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), discussed the early learning goals of the new department. DCYF will focus on three areas of child outcomes: education, health, and resilience. Ybarra sought ideas on specific goals and the measurement of those goals. PAG members emphasized the need to focus on reducing trauma and measuring family stability. Ybarra said she would return to the group at a future date to continue the conversation about DCYF’s goals and measurements.

PAG members also discussed the ELAC meeting the day before and heard from one member on her experience with the negotiated rulemaking process. The parents also participated in a focus group as part of DEL’s ongoing Parent Needs Assessment.

PAG members participated in a team-building exercise and closing questions before ending their day. They will reconvene for their next meeting this summer.
The next meeting may include some new faces: PAG is currently recruiting new members from across the state.

“This is such an opportunity for parents to engage,” said longtime PAG member Natasha Fecteau, who is also a member of ELAC.

For more information on the open PAG positions, visit the DEL website at: https://del.wa.gov/parents-family/parent-advisory-group.

The Parent Advisory Group serves as a sounding board for decisions, ideas and questions that shape the future of early learning in Washington. PAG is made up of parents and family caregivers of children in communities across Washington state. To find out more about PAG, visit http://del.wa.gov/parents-family/parent-advisory-group.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

DEL explores outdoor preschool through pilot project

The Department of Early Learning (DEL) has begun exploring the possibility of licensing outdoor, nature-based preschool programs. Through a pilot project with more than a dozen of the state’s outdoor preschools, DEL seeks to collect and analyze data about child safety in outdoor settings.

Currently, there are more than 40 outdoor preschools operating in the state. Because these preschools are part-day programs, they are not subject to child care licensing regulations, but many of these programs seek to create full-day programs. DEL’s outdoor preschool pilot was established by the Washington State Legislature in spring of 2017 to investigate how outdoor preschools currently operate and how to adapt licensing rules to allow for the operation of full-day outdoor programs.

“For me the motivation is really about ensuring the health and safety of children and helping to promote the model as a whole and gain credibility for the field,” said Kit Harrington, pilot participant and director of the Fiddleheads Forest School at the University of Washington in Seattle. “I hope that it provides the opportunity for more families to access outdoor preschool programming.”

The pilot project began in July 2017 with the recruitment of 16 programs to be pilot participants who will advise DEL on the creation of licensing rules especially for outdoor programs. Participants will test out full-day services and aid in the ongoing collection and analysis of data. In the fourth year of the pilot, beginning July 2020, DEL will conduct its final data collection and analysis and submit pilot recommendations to the legislature.

The participants met for their first in-person meeting of 2018 on March 12. At the meeting, pilot participants learned the basic procedures for becoming licensed, including signing up for MERIT, Washington’s professional development registry, and beginning the portable background check process for the programs’ staff members. DEL staff and pilot participants also discussed some of the licensing challenges associated with outdoor preschools, including appropriate staff-to-child ratios and the assessment and use of outdoor spaces.

The pilot participants represent an array of outdoor-based learning environments. Some participants have indoor classrooms but emphasize outdoor time. Others are fully immersed in forests or other outdoor environments without any indoor space. Regardless of the environment, though, outdoor preschools feel they offer unique experiences to early learners.

“We let what’s going on around us shape our curriculum. That’s what nature-based means to us,” said pilot participant Caroline Cook, the early childhood education coordinator at the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center in Bellevue. “One of the most important things I hope kids get out of their time here is a strong connection to and love for nature that will stay with them throughout their lives.”

The outdoor environment allows children to engage in learning in hands-on ways, many participants agree.

“They get to have learning in context, so they’re learning not only what dirt feels like but also what it feels like when it’s wet or slippery,” said Sarah Salazar-Tipton, a pilot participant from Olympic Nature Experience in Sequim. “There are so many layers of learning.”

For some pilot participants, the benefits of participation extend beyond informing the creation of licensing standards.

“Our greatest goal is just to increase that network of support for nature preschools everywhere and to make sure nature preschool is something all children can access,” Harrington said. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to live and learn in an outdoor classroom.”

The pilot participants will continue to meet regularly with DEL staff in-person and over the phone throughout the four years of the project.

“I hope that everybody who is participating is excited with the outcome and that we feel like we’ve created opportunities for schools and programs to get involved,” Salazar-Tipton said. “It’s been great working with the Department of Early Learning. They’ve been very responsive and collaborative.”

For more information about the outdoor preschool pilot project or to read the 2018 legislative report on the pilot, visit http://del.wa.gov/Outdoor-Preschool.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

ELAC discusses future early learning investments, DCYF transition

Members of the Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) met for their second meeting of 2018 on April 3 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Tukwila. The day-long meeting had a full agenda that included discussions on negotiated rulemaking, early learning policy development, and the transition to the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).

DEL Assistant Director Luba Bezborodnikova provided an update on the negotiated rulemaking process. The negotiated rule makers have reached consensus on 110 out of 116 sections of regulation and have received and reviewed more than 1,500 public comments as part of the process. ELAC members provided input on possible partnerships for trainings on the new licensing rules. Training and communication about the new rules will take place between August 2018 and August 2019, when the rules will go into effect.

Vickie Ybarra, director of DCYF’s Office of Innovation, Alignment, and Accountability (OIAA), discussed the mission of OIAA, which is to develop and present a plan for DCYF to achieve the best possible results for Washington’s children and families. To do that, Ybarra’s six-member team is crafting stakeholder engagement plans to aid in the development of child outcome goals and measurements. ELAC members emphasized the need to measure behavioral and mental health and to consider new approaches to early learning and measurements of child outcomes.

ELAC members also provided their input on excerpts from the 2018 Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Plan, which will be submitted to the federal government on July 1. The CCDF is the primary source of federal funding for Washington’s child care subsidies. DEL is required to draft plans and present them for public comment every three years.

Assistant Director Frank Ordway ended the day seeking input from ELAC on future early learning investments. Governor Jay Inslee requested proposals for increasing investments in the education of 3- and 4-year-olds in Washington state. DEL is working to put together a recommendation for Governor Inslee by June and sought initial input from ELAC. Ordway stressed his hope that ELAC play a large role in the development of policy recommendations for the governor.

“I am committed to public engagement, and it’s critical that we get your support,” Ordway said. “We need the support of the advocacy community and providers across the state.”

ELAC members offered some initial thoughts on early learning investments, including the need for better data and close collaboration with other state agencies. Some members also suggested greater investment in wrap-around services such as mental health and dental care. The topic will be on the agenda for further discussion at the next ELAC meeting.

Ordway and State Representative Tom Dent, an ELAC member, also took a moment to honor Representative Ruth Kagi, who announced she would not seek re-election this fall after serving 20 years in the state legislature. Kagi has been an advocate for children since her election to the House of Representatives in 1998 and served as chair of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee since 2002. Kagi co-sponsored the 2015 Early Start Act and the 2017 bill that established the new DCYF.

Representative Dent praised Kagi in remarks he made to ELAC members.

“It was a great experience for me and I’m personally going to miss her,” he said. “She was so open to my ideas.”

ELAC was created by the state legislature in 2007 to provide input and recommendations to DEL to ensure that the department’s strategies are well-informed and broadly supported. Meetings are held six times a year and are open to the public. The next meeting will be held June 5. To keep updated on meeting agendas and locations, visit: https://del.wa.gov/partnerships/elac/meetings.


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