Early Learning Advisory Council Representative, Chelle Downey Magee, attended this first “in-person” ELAC meeting of the calendar year and reports that is was well-attended with an agenda that was quite full!  Read her summary report below:

Negotiated Rule Making Update

Luba Bezborodnikova, Assistant Director for the Early Start Act at DEL expressed “tremendous gratitude” to all those involved in the negotiated rule making process. Over the past 10 months the group has spent 220.5 hours meeting together (on weekends) to align content and assign weighting to standards in the section of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) having to do with Family Home and Child Care Centers. In addition, these meetings were open to the public, and public comment was taken through the DEL website. As of this meeting, consensus had been reached on 110 of 116 topics, on both content and weighting. Six are tabled. Luba described the process, “it’s been very painful, different perspectives, different interests,” but children remain the focus.

In May the revised WACs will be released for a period of public comment. Communication and training on the new WACs begins in August 2018, and enforcement begins in August 2019. Licensors as well as support and providers will be trained on the new rules, which are more concrete and more enforceable. The majority of the WACs stayed the same, although the organization and language may have changed. The goal is to help providers be successful in transition to the new rules. For additional information: https://del.wa.gov/government/standards-alignment

Department of Children, Youth and Families Office of Innovation, Alignment and Accountability Work

Vickie Ybarra, Director of Research and Policy at the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) provided an update on the formation and goals of the new department. At the moment, staff and funds are directed towards merging the back-office functions (HR, IT, finance) of the three departments that are merging to form DCYF. As part of the creation of this department they’re creating new Child Outcome Goals, with lots of opportunity for public input; the goals must be broad enough to encompass all that the new department wants to accomplish, yet detailed enough to measure at the local level and by subpopulation. Vickie stated, “How we set up outcomes is how we talk about kids.” Decisions about programs for children, both the effectiveness and expense, will rely on data-informed evidence to inform practice to get to the goals. For additional information regarding the Office of Innovation, Alignment and Accountability: https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/oiaa.

2018 ELAC Work Plan

Looking ahead at the remainder of the year, ELAC gets to spend time considering agency request legislation, Early Achievers, Working Connections Child Care, Consolidate Birth-to-Three Strategies and Family, Friend and Neighbor Care. We’ll also receive updates on DCYF and ECEAP.

2018 Child Care Development Fund Plan

Matt Judge, Child Care Administrator with DEL, presented the 2018 Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Plan. The CCDF is a primary source of US federal funding for child-care subsidies for low-income working families and funds to improve child care quality. This plan is viewed as a way to make progress in policies serving communities of color. Public meetings are being held prior to the submission of the plan on July 1. For additional information: https://del.wa.gov/government/child-care-and-development-fund and https://del.wa.gov/sites/default/files/public/Partnerships/ELAC1/040318/CCDF_Flyer_English.pdf

Policy Development and Review

Frank Ordway, Director of Government and Community Affairs at DCYF, started out by saying that the 2018 legislative session wrapped up on time—it was a supplemental session that operated like one should. Bipartisan work on early learning continues. Home visiting has come a long way, evidence continues to show its effectiveness. Working Connections serves 50,000 children each day; its operations will be consolidated under DCYF. Legislation passed to create a trauma-informed care plan for the state, but not a lot of money was attached.

Of great interest, DCYF has been asked by Governor Inslee to explore universal PreK, with more slots and more services. Lots of ideas are floating around about what that should look like—everything from ECEAP for everyone to PreK classrooms at public schools. The proposal needs to be submitted by the end of June, so as to be ready in August when requests and legislative budgets are due.

DCYF is standing up a new time and attendance system this summer. It’s a big deal because it involves every provider that takes subsidy in the state. Other states have found tens of thousand of dollars in savings after implementing similar systems.

It seems that the budget in 2019 will be stable. In the session people are moving in and out of leadership, the new ones will need to be educated. The big themes in the session are transparency, family focus and equity.