Monday, October 10, 2016

State Tests How to Best Support ECEAP Providers

Last summer, the Legislature passed the Early Start Act (ESA) and Governor J. Inslee signed it into law. The ESA improves access to high-quality early learning opportunities and is key to improving child outcomes and strengthening school readiness. To assist with this, DEL explores ways to help child care providers prepare to offer integrated child care and ECEAP services.

DEL contracted with Child Care Aware of Washington (CCA of WA) to conduct a two-year pilot to:

  • Learn what child care providers need to be successful in providing joint ECEAP and child care services. 
  • Develop and test the training and coaching approaches needed in addition to the existing support provided through Early Achievers.
  • The pilot training, toolkit, and methodology (with individualized coaching between each training sessions) worked. Some refinements to training, sequencing, and other supports were also identified. 

Highlighted recommendations:

Training and coaching. Allow time for providers and coaches to build relationships and improve programs. This is key to success.

In the pilot, training cohorts helped providers explore potential consortium or subcontracting relationships early. All participants made progress in their understanding of Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) implementation and are eager to continue despite lack of ECEAP slots. Most participants wanted to reach Early Achievers level four before adding ECEAP.
“The training really sparked my thinking of next steps regarding staffing, professional development, program oversight and implementation of the standards.”

Pilot participant 
Additional coaching is needed in offering comprehensive services, serving English language learners (ELL), and serving children with developmental delays or challenging behaviors. ELL participants needed more time to clarify the meaning of some materials. 
Toolkit. The ECEAP Pathway Toolkit (containing visual modules) helped participants to:
  • see what is involved, 
  • understand what implementation looks like, 
  • compare to current practices, and 
  • identify where they need to augment (or confirm what they are already doing); see examples, and reflect on their business to create a realistic plan of action. 
Coach Experience. Have coaches experienced in licensing, Early Achievers and ECEAP, as well as running a child care business. This promotes streamlined conversations, coaching, and participant understanding.

Considerable flexibility was needed to schedule coaching with busy providers. 

DEL also learned from a variety of issues that arose during the pilot, including:

System Issues. Availability of adequate facilities continues to be a challenge in ECEAP expansion. Some providers need increased funding for start-up and/or expansion of their facilities to add ECEAP.

Availability of Early Achievers scholarships and flexibility of the Professional Development plan within the ECEAP Performance Standards provided enough support to meet educational requirements. However, required course offerings are often not available at times or in ways that providers can participate.

Items Requiring Additional Exploration. Because of the lack of available ECEAP slots to implement during the pilot, year two of the pilot will need to explore several topic including, but not limited to:
  • Additional supports for completing the ECEAP application process which can be arduous.
  • Alignment of marketing, prioritization, and enrollment across existing and new contractors.
  • Peer networking so pilot (and future) providers can continue to strengthen relationships.

To read the report and complementary appendices, visit the following links:

To learn more about ECEAP or any of DEL’s programs, go to

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