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

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

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.