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: