Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Washington Early Learning Partners Sign Resolution and Host Brainstorming Session

In front of more than 1,000 early learning professionals and K-3 teachers, the Department of Early Learning (DEL), the Department of Health (Health), the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Thrive Washington (Thrive), and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) signed a joint resolution, re-establishing their commitment to collaboration.

Washington early learning partners sign a joint resolution committing
to  collaboration in early learning
 at the Starting Strong conference in Tacoma.
Following this signing at the Starting Strong conference, the partners hosted a break-out session inviting input from the conference attendees on the 2015/2016 school year's priority strategies. These strategies are garnered from the Washington Early Learning Plan. The partnership uses these as a framework, as the strategies within the plan emphasize the vision that children in Washington will start life with a solid foundation.

Conference attendees visiting seven tables representing each priority and gave feedback. Participants were asked for ideas on improvement or ways the partners could accomplish goals pertaining to each priority.

The focused strategies were:
  • “Build Continuum of Infants and Toddlers Services and Programs”
  •  “Make Home Visiting Available to At-Risk Families”
  • “Ensure Social-Emotional Learning – Parents, Caregivers, Early Learning Professionals; Provide Health, Mental Health and Social-Emotional Consultation in Early Learning Settings; Ensure Continuum of Social/Emotional Learning— Children, Expand Compassionate Schools – Reducing Effects of Complex Trauma”
  • “Strengthen Public Awareness and Action”
  • “Implement Comprehensive Professional Development and Compensation System”
  • “Expand Early Numeracy Programs; Align Prekindergarten and K-3 Instructional and Programmatic Practices; and Implement Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (WaKIDS)”
  • “Ensure Developmental Screening and Connections to Responsive Supports”

The strategies discussed were chosen based on the urgency or momentum of each priority. Each of these strategies is something that three or more members of the partnership will pursue jointly. 

The Washington early learning partnership hosts a
Starting Strong break-out session dedicated to
brainstorming on early learning plan priorities.
In addition, each agency is working on its own priorities in early learning, either as described in the larger ten-year plan, or to meet an emergent need.

In order to successfully carry out any of the 2015/16 strategies, the partnership must meaningfully engage a broad range of constituents and stakeholders, beginning with parents and other caregivers, and including tribal governments, federal, state, and local jurisdictions, and an array of non-profit, research, philanthropic and community partners, particularly those focused on leading for equity, and closing opportunity gaps. 

The partnership must include families in the decisions that affect them. With each strategy -- and throughout their work -- the partnership will focus on key questions, such as: 
  • is it good for kids, families, and providers?; 
  • do some benefit more than others?; 
  • who lacks access and why?; 
  • what data and information is missing?; and 
  •  might there be any unintended consequences? 
In the preamble to the priorities, it states,
"We will drive our work to ensure equitable access and help to close gaps. Only by closing gaps will we be able to ensure a bright future for all children, families, and communities in Washington."
Special thanks to all of the attendees of Starting Strong and for all of the thoughtful and constructive brainstorming that occurred at the partners' break-out session!

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