Monday, August 1, 2016

WA's Early Learning System Marks Success in Meeting Critical Quality Milestone

As of Aug. 1, 2016, the majority of non-school age children receiving child care subsidies in Washington are being cared for by providers who are committed to high-quality early learning experiences. The 2015 Early Start Act created a mandate for quality improvement via participation in the State’s Early Achievers system. We now have 3,072 providers* enrolled in the program and on the path towards quality ratings. As the Department of Early Learning drives forward towards its goal of getting 90% of children ready for kindergarten by 2020, with race and family income no longer predictors of success, reaching this milestone in the Early Achievers program is substantial.
“I’m excited that more than 3,000 providers have joined us in improving the success of the next generation with high-quality early learning opportunities for our State’s diverse children,” said Ross Hunter, Director, Department of Early Learning.

What is Early Achievers?

Early Achievers is Washington’s program to provide additional supports to early learning professionals, including training, scholarships, quality improvement awards, and higher pay. It helps parents find the best possible care for their youngest learners, and ensures the money the State spends on subsidies only goes to evidence-based high-quality care.
“Early Achievers has come a long way since its inception four years ago. With the passage of the Aug. 1 Early Start Act milestone it is important to reflect on how much progress high-quality child care and early learning programs have made in Washington. With more than 3,000 licensed providers now participating, Early Achievers has become the driving force of quality in this field. We at Child Care Aware of Washington are inspired by the strengths, hard work and dedication of our state’s child care providers whom we have been privileged to support on their Early Achievers journeys.” Robin Lester, CEO, Child Care Aware of Washington.
Provider numbers by Child Care Aware of Washington region.

What does Washington’s Early Achievers system look like now?

  • 3,072 total licensed providers participating in the program; 2,130 are Family Homes and 942 are Centers.
  • There are more than a dozen languages spoken by providers, with more than 230 Somali and 550 Spanish speakers alone.
  • There are more than 35,000 children in care with Early Achievers participants; roughly 8 percent are infants, 26 percent are toddlers, and 66 percent are preschool age.

What’s next for our early learning professionals?

Early Achievers is a supportive process – it means that participants have committed to continuous improvement and ongoing ratings. The majority of providers have until the end of 2019 to rate a level 3 or higher in the program. DEL will continue to evaluate this growing program, refining the standards to ensure they engender the kindergarten readiness that is at the core of our mission and purpose. With this success, we are making progress towards our goal of getting 90% of kids ready for kindergarten by 2020. 
“Aligning quality standards in all early learning facilities was an ambitious goal that we are now fully implementing. With high quality training, technical assistance and coaching, we are learning new methods, refining old ones and documenting milestones. I am continually inspired with family child care providers across the state that are embracing these new practices and dedicating the endless hours to implement new tools like ERS and CLASS, and becoming very intentional in their goals for each and every child,” said Marie Keller, Family Child Care Chapter President SEIU925.
Want to learn more about Early Achievers? Visit our webpage:

*Numbers throughout this post do not include ECEAP/HS sites or private-pay providers and were current as of August 1, 2016. Family, Friends, and Neighbors providers are not required to participate in Early Achievers.

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