Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Planning for the Future of Early Learning in WA: ELAC's Latest Meeting

Yesterday, DEL's Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) met in Lacey to discuss the future of early learning programs in Washington state. To learn more about ELAC, refer to June's blog post about their last meeting.

Agenda items included but were not limited to:

  • The Parent Advisory Group (PAG)
    • DEL is currently in the review process after receiving 87 applications following the July 15 deadline. More information will be released in the coming weeks regarding the final members of this group. For more information about PAG, click here: Parent Advisory Group.
  • The Child Care Development Fund (CCDF)
    • The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is a federal grant that supports low-income working families by providing access to affordable, high-quality early care and after-school programs. 
    • As CCDF is a federal grant, the federal government updates and issues new requirements to it's recipients. Some of the requirements that DEL is currently working on with advisement from ELAC are:
      • support family engagement in child care settings to promote healthy child development
      • social/emotional development and preschool expulsion policies
      • child care subsidy policies (e.g. allowing homeless families to receive subsidy before submitting required documentation such as immunization records).
  • Advancing Racial Equity
    • As stated in June's blog post, ELAC will advise DEL on early learning policies and incorporate the Racial Equity Theory of Change (link courtesy of Thrive Washington) into the Council's feedback when considering early learning programs.With that in mind, ELAC members discussed doing the following moving forward:
      • develop an annual reflection on progress made in racial equity
      • DEL collects data regarding the successes and barriers that people face in their communities
      • promote specific training and/or presentations regarding racial equity around the state
      • construct a Racial Equity Toolkit with data as a main component
        • data includes indicators like "number of Washington children participating in home visiting and preschool dis-aggregated by race and ethnicity" or "number of early learning professionals that take training on culturally or linguistically responsive services."
  • The Early Start Act
  • DEL staff presents about the Early Start Act at yesterday's ELAC meeting.
    • DEL staff presented on their hope for implementation of the Early Start Act as it was signed into law on July 6. To read more about the Early Start Act, check out last week's post about the Early Start Act Q&A panel at Starting Strong.
    • Early Start Act topics at this ELAC meeting included Early Achievers and standards alignment. For up-to-date information on the Act's requirements and supports, go here: DEL's Early Start Act pages
ELAC meetings are generally held six times per year and host a variety of early learning advocates (regional coalitions like Child Strive of Pierce County, the Inland Northwest Early Learning Alliance, Investing in Children: Coalition Central, North Central, Northwest, Olympic-Kitsap Peninsulas coalitions, SOAR of King County, Southeast and Southwest coalitions, and Visions for Early Learning of West Central Washington). ELAC also welcomes government agency representatives from the Department of Social and Health Services, the Department of Health, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Thrive Washington. Legislators also attend regularly. For  more information about ELAC, check out DEL's page dedicated to this group.

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