Thursday, December 28, 2017

ELAC holds final meeting of 2017

The Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) held its final meeting of the year on December 5 in Seattle. Regional Advisor Enrica Hampton set an uplifting tone for the meeting by asking attendees what they are looking forward to most with the transition to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). Responses varied, but a reoccurring theme is that many are hopeful about the positive change the transition will bring for families and children.

“What I really appreciate about this transition is that the family is core and central. Research is showing children and families need to be the focal point and I am glad that Washington State agencies are responding to that research appropriately,” said Catherine Duffy, the Developmental Disabilities Community representative.

The meeting progressed with an agenda providing the opportunity for the Department of Early Learning (DEL) to update attendees on topics such as the Early Start Act (ESA) Report, Market Rate and Cost of Quality surveys, regionalization, and general department updates.

Vickie Ybarra, Research Director of DCYF, gave an update about the ESA report and shared how she and her team are using research and data to better understand the various factors that are impacting children, families, and providers in regards to childcare. Some factors that directly link to a shortage in family home providers was the potential impact of Early Achievers requirements, providers retiring, and providers exiting because their child has phased out of the system. 

DEL Director Heather Moss responded to the decline of family home care. “We have not seen a decrease in children served, but a decrease in family home care. Not a decrease in care, but in choice of care.”

Following the ESA report, attendees had the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the Market Rate and Cost of Quality surveys. Although DEL is only required to send out the Market Rate survey, Director Moss highlighted that by providing both surveys, “It will allow us to quantify what the market is bearing, versus what providers are charging and allows comparison for subsidy rate and how we identify them in the future and the costs associated with licensing and regulatory changes.”

With a goal of having a 75 percent response rate, members of ELAC stepped up to say they would commit to helping DEL by sharing information about the survey with providers in their area. 

Director Moss gave a brief overview of possible DCYF Regional Structures and asked attendees how they would like to be involved in conversations about regions. With a final decision being made by the end of December many attendees voiced ideas and recommendations such as ensuring that tribal nations stay intact and perhaps following a structure similar to the Educational Service Districts.

Following lunch, DEL Assistant Director Frank Ordway took questions and touched briefly on general DEL updates regarding the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program Expansion Think Tank, Early Childhood Education Workforce Council, Attendance Project, and Negotiated Rule Making. 

To conclude the meeting, attendees were asked about the development of a reflection report that would highlight all of the work done by ELAC in 2017. The hope is to develop a report that not only captures the accomplishments of the group, but can be shared with those outside of ELAC.

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