Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Seeds to Success field test near end; DEL prepares to expand statewide

On June 30, the field test will end for Seeds to Success, our state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) and the Department of Early Learning (DEL) will begin moving toward statewide expansion.

QRIS programs offer information about child care quality to help parents find the right child care for their families. There are 25 states with programs, including Pennsylvania, Colorado and Massachusetts.

DEL partnered with Thrive by Five Washington to conduct the field test in five communities (Thrive demonstration communities of East Yakima, White Center, and Spokane, Clark and Kitsap counties). Working with the communities, Thrive, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we’ve developed and tested quality standards, evaluated incentives and supports for child care providers, and created a nationally recognized program that has served about 3,000 children and 90 child care providers statewide. We have learned a great deal about what works and what can be improved to better support child care providers in creating quality environments.

In recognition of their work to ensure high-quality learning environments for Washington’s children, eligible field test participants will have the opportunity to continue with the program. They will become early adopters of the final QRIS model and continue to receive continue to receive training and support to improve child care. Application criteria for early adopters will be availablein May.

DEL is committed to expanding Seeds statewide. After June 30, we will have the final data to refine the quality standards and begin building the technology, policies and systemwide training necessary to expand to more communities. This work will take time, and DEL does not anticipate inviting new child care centers and family homes to participate until next year.

Nationally and here in our state, QRIS is a top priority. Washington is one of 10 states nationwide invited to partner with the federal Office of Child Care to ensure our system aligns with federal benchmarks and priorities. Moving forward on QRIS is a key strategy of the 10-year statewide Early Learning Plan and the report delivered to the Legislature by the Professional Development Consortium in December 2010. DEL has prioritized a portion of our federal funding in the next biennium for this work.

To learn more about the Seeds to Success model, visit

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