Thursday, December 10, 2015

Lawmakers and Early Learning Advocates Tour SW Licensed Care

Yesterday, Representative Ruth Kagi, staff from Child Care Aware of Washington and members of DEL staff visited licensed child care centers and family child care homes in both Tacoma and Olympia.

DEL licensed child care regions.
The event is what is known as a "DEL legislative tour" as it is a time to invite lawmakers and advocates of early learning to view the conditions of licensed child care in specific areas. This tour was dedicated to ECEAP classrooms, child care centers and homes to get a variety of perspectives from various providers.

The group got a view of licensed child care in the state's Southwest Region which currently holds:

  • 3,786 licensed family home child care programs
  • 1,533 licensed child care centers 
  • 424 school-age programs
The Southwest Region is unique in that:
  • Staff includes one Regional Administrator, four Licensing Supervisors, 23 Licensors, a Licensing Analyst, a Health Specialist, an Administrative Assistant, and four administrative support staff. 
  • It has three satellite offices located away from the larger metropolitan areas: Aberdeen, Kelso, and Port Angeles. Each of these offices is staffed by a single licensor who carries a combined caseload of family homes, child care centers, and school age programs. Additionally, there is a Bremerton office that houses two licensors for Kitsap County.
  • Many of the Southwest office staff have strong working relationships with area community colleges, early learning coalitions, family home child care associations, directors’ groups, Child Care Aware, and other early learning community partners.
    Rep. Ruth Kagi looks in on a classroom at snack time in Lacey, WA.
  • The Southwest Region works closely with military early childhood programs that are licensed by the Department of Defense. Bangor Naval Base has two child care centers and Kitsap Naval Base has three child care centers that DEL certifies for payment only. Joint Base Lewis-McChord has twelve child care centers that DEL certifies for payment only. Additionally, there are 19 family child care homes that are licensed by the military that DEL certifies for payment only. 
  • There are several tribes in the Southwest Region that DEL works with. Some of the tribes are certified for payment only and some are certified. Agencies that are certified by DEL are governed by their own set of rules and must request to be certified.
Overall, touring the Southwest Region's licensed facilities was a successful and educational where experts in the field voiced their view on child care subsidy, ECEAP and successful STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lessons that are happening now in licensed facilities. Early Achievers and the Early Start Act (passage in July 2015) were also on the minds of licensed providers. 

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