Thursday, August 31, 2017

Public Records Office: A Cornerstone of Democratic Institutions

The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is committed to transparency and excellence in records management. To accomplish this goal, DEL has a small but mighty public records team. The public records team is responsible for keeping DEL in compliance with public records laws, but also to serve as a resource for the communities we serve.  Any member of the public can request documents and records from our agency for non-commercial purposes, and the public records team will make sure the right documents are delivered.  With their hard work and expertise, they are the very essence of an open and transparent government, one of the cornerstones of a healthy democracy.

As a public agency, DEL is subject to the Washington State Public Records Act under RCW 42.56.  We work hard to be transparent in our operations because we know this makes us better at serving and protecting children in Washington State.

So what is a public records request? Requests come in many forms including email, fax, mail, and carrier pigeon. OK, that last one hasn’t happened, but we’re open to it. Members of the public can request documents about almost anything at our agency.  This can include:
  • Policies that interpret state or federal law and are put in place by DEL. 
  • Administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect how we work with the public.
  • Reports, surveys, or research conducted by DEL. 
  • Correspondence by DEL employees, both to other employees and to members of the public.
As you can imagine, even for a small agency like DEL, that adds up to a lot of records requests every year.  We typically process between 200-250 requests a year, or about 16-20 requests each month.  Each request can vary in the number of documents it entails; one of the largest requests submitted to DEL requested thousands of employee emails!  Before releasing records to the public, our team reviews all of the requested documents for possible exemptions. The public records team walks a tightrope to ensure transparency in the work DEL does for the public while also protecting sensitive information for the families and children we serve.

The work of our public records team isn’t flashy or glamorous, and you will never find a five-year-old child dressing up as a public records officer for Halloween or career day.  But a strong and effective public records team is the backbone of our commitment to transparency, and an integral part of our civic duty as a state agency.

Do you have a public records request to make?  Visit our webpage to learn more:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

DEL is accepting applications for a Licensed Center Advisory Subcommittee of the Early Learning Advisory Council

The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is recruiting members for a new Licensed Center Advisory Subcommittee of the Washington Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC). This new subcommittee will be tasked with providing input on licensing and subsidy rules and regulations. 

Membership Requirements 

Members will represent a licensed child care center and Washington’s regional, racial, and cultural diversity. Members will serve two-year terms that expire on June 30th of the second year. We anticipate that the subcommittee will initially meet quarterly, and then reassess the need after the first year. Members are expected to attend the majority of meetings and be prepared to actively participate. Participants who volunteer in additional subcommittees or work groups should expect to meet outside of the regular meeting dates. 

Supports for Members

Subcommittee members are eligible for mileage reimbursements to help support participation. Mileage will be reimbursed at current state travel reimbursement rates and in accordance with the State of Washington Office of Financial Management Travel Regulations. Current rates for travel can be accessed at:

If you are interested, please fill out the application and submit it in one of the following ways by September 30, 2017:

Dept. of Early Learning 
State/Local Coordinatio
PO Box 40970
Olympia, WA 98504-0970
Drop-Off at:
Dept. of Early Learnin
State/Local Coordination 
1110 Jefferson St SE
Olympia, WA 98501
Feel free to contact us ( with any questions. 

Process and Timeline

September 30, 2017: Recruitments due to DEL
October 9-13, 2017: Recruitment Review
October 23, 2017: Applicants Notified
November 1, 2017: Membership Terms Begin 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Early Achievers – August 1, 2017 Milestone

Story Time 
The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is proud to announce that Washington’s early learning system has reached another Early Start Act milestone!  In 2016, all early learning providers accepting state child care subsidies made a commitment to quality improvement through participation in Early Achievers, Washington’s Quality Rating and Improvement System.  With the support of Early Achievers coaches at our partner Child Care Aware of Washington, these providers have spent the past year working to complete the Early Achievers Professional Training Series before the August 1, 2017 milestone mandated by the Early Start Act of 2015.  We are thrilled to share, as of August 1, 2017, 97 percent of mandated providers met this important milestone in quality improvement.  

Reaching this milestone has been a team effort and we are incredibly proud of the work that our partners and participants have done to accomplish this latest achievement:

  • In the past year, more than 1,500 licensed child care providers completed Early Achievers Level 2 activities, meaning the vast majority of licensed providers who accept state subsidies met the recent Early Start Act milestone. 
  • Early Achievers participants received a combined 81,277 hours of coaching, technical assistance and consultation, offered in English, Spanish, Somali, Russian from our wonderful partners at Child Care Aware.
  • As of now, approximately 71 percent of all licensed child care providers are participating in Early Achievers.

Today, more than 3,900 early learning providers in Washington participate in Early Achievers. Their dedication to continuous improvement and ongoing evaluation has a direct impact on kindergarten readiness for children across the state and we are proud to support their efforts. DEL and its partners will continue to offer a variety of supports and resources as we prepare Early Achievers participants for their next milestone of rating Level 3 or higher by the end of 2019. We will also continue to evaluate the Early Achievers system to ensure the quality standards lead to the kindergarten readiness, at the core of our mission and purpose. This latest successful milestone brings us one step closer to our goal of getting 90 percent of kids ready for kindergarten by 2020.
Want to know what providers are saying about the Early Achievers experience? Watch Child Care Aware of Washington’s Impact video series here:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

DEL to Have Strong, Familiar Leadership During Transition Year

Heather Moss and Ross Hunter
Starting August 1st, I will officially begin serving as the Secretary of the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).  While I’m excited about the opportunities we have to help improve outcomes for Washington’s most at-risk kids, I want to make sure we continue the crazy good work we’re doing here at DEL. I am pleased to tell you that Governor Inslee just offered our Deputy Director, Heather Moss, the position of DEL Director during this important transition year. 

Collectively, we have a lot of work to do in the next year to stand up the new DCYF, and I look forward to working with many of you to make this transition successful.  In the meantime, there is a lot of work still happening at DEL that needs the full energy and attention of a strong leadership team, and someone who knows the work intimately to steer the ship. I am extremely grateful to have Heather in this role.

In the almost two years that I’ve worked with her at DEL, she has been an excellent right-hand-woman, and she is well positioned to support DEL through this transition year. Below is a brief statement from her.  

Ross Hunter  

Dear DEL community,  

I am happy to serve as the Director of DEL during this important transition year. I am so proud of the work we all do here at DEL, and I have great respect for the partners, child care providers, Home Visitors, and everyone else who makes this a strong early learning system. As the Director, my focus will be on three areas:  
  • Hold steady on the important work we are currently doing here at DEL; 
  • Identify and celebrate the unique culture and values of the early learning field that we want to retain as we transition into DCYF; and
  • Partner with Ross and his transition team to manage a successful integration of DEL (and CA and JR) into DCYF. 
I have been at DEL for about 3 ½ years now and have seen our agency change, grow, and mature during that time. Since DEL’s inception 11 years ago there have been even more changes which have consistently improved the system, so I am confident we can successfully take on this new challenge of merging into DCYF. 

Our structure may look a bit different this year and next, but the work that each of you do is and will remain an important part of the early learning system in Washington State. We’ve got this! I am looking forward to working with you over this coming year; please reach out via email or phone to share your ideas and input!  


Heather Moss