The April Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) meeting took place in Lacey on April 2. WFIS representations Chelle Downey-Magee attended and shares the details below:
Feedback loop from previous meetings:
- Performance-based Contracting Standards—Stacey Gillette is wrapping up her listening tour, and will provide an update on next steps in late June/early July.
- Early Achievers Review Subcommittee—Met on February 19 and discussed topics including HB 1391, Early Achievers Joint Select Committee Recommendations.
- Advancing Racial Equity Work Group—along with other equity groups within DCYF are merging in to one larger group to align work and make connections throughout the state.
- Indian Policy Early Learning Committee—Met on December 12 and discussed Standards Alignment, Tribal ECEAP Eligibility, the Outdoor Preschool Pilot and FFPSA.
- Parent Advisory Group—Met on January 11 and discussed the FFPSA and the work of the Office of Innovation, Alignment and Accountability.
State agency and partner updates included the good news that the WaKIDS data for fall is now available on the OSPI website. The Department of Health (DOH) has a Wildfire Smoke Advisory Group working on refining guidance for closing outdoor activities. Additionally, DOH submitted an application for another autism grant that focuses on family navigation and connection to community referrals. Two other DOH projects worth learning about are Essentials for Childhood and Healthy Eating Active Living. More information can be found at: ww.doh.wa.gov/efc. The regional coalitions around the state are doing lots of work with both families and providers, and lots of advocacy while the legislature is in session.
As the new licensing standards are implemented in less than 5 months, the Alignment Awareness and Education Campaign was a passionately discussed topic. Luba Bezborodnikova presented the purpose, principles and purpose of standards alignment, stating “The standards originally focused on minimum quality. Foundational quality is more equitable.” Over the past eight months DCYF has carried on a campaign to get the message out to providers—alignment standards are well-informed, child-focused and achievable. DCYF is conducting in-person deep dive sessions as well as webinars for each section of the standards. The very hottest part of the entire topic is professional development, requirements for specific positions. The tricky part is that DCYF must meet federal requirements since it received funding from the federal Child Care Development Fund. The equivalency work group (from the standards negotiating process) continues to work on this very important and very vexing issue. DCYF has a new site just for standards alignment, and most importantly the FAQ sections can be found at: https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/services/early-learning-providers/standards-alignment/faq.
After lunch Kelly Bohanon and Tracie Kenney from DCYF spoke about the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five. It’s a federal grant, a launching pad for bigger opportunity to do planning work. The purposes of the grant are to build a state early childhood system, to coordinate and collaborate, to build a mixed-delivery system to meet families where there at using multiple funding sources, to serve low-income, high-risk children and families, to focus on families and the family role in children’s development and finally transitions from kindergarten through the end of high school. They’re using an All, Some, Few framework (Few—highest needs/intensive services—complex trauma/behavioral challenges, severe disabilities; Some—high needs/targeted services—disabilities, poverty, child welfare involvement, homelessness; All—universal needs and services—services for children meeting developmental milestones, no significant risks). This grant is all about meshing things together to engage the community, share best practices, maximize parent knowledge and improve the quality of services for children in Washington.
Silvie Senauke from the DCYF Office of Innovation, Alignment and Accountability (OIAA) followed up her fall presentation about the Child Welfare—Early Learning project. The pilots got underway in April, at a few different sites. Thus far the preliminary insights are:
- We need strategies to prompt workers to consider and initiate referrals
- Client follow-up is challenging for providers without being given full client information
- Broader long-term impacts likely require additional changes
In May the next project phase will be determined.
Holly Wyrwich, also from OIAA spoke about baseline performance assessment as it relates to the performance of the agency. https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/practice/oiaa/agency-performance is a good place to start. From there you can explore the agency performance dashboard, DCYF’s way of being accountable to the public and sharing agency performance data.
Frank Ordway, DCYF Director of Government Affairs and Community Engagement, talked about the current legislative session. He opined that not a lot of policy bills that cost anything survived because there’s not a lot to go around. As far as Working Connection rates, they’ll go up but still not be sufficient. Center providers showed up to hearings, which was a significant step. HB 1391 the Early Achievers bill moved through both houses with some added recommendations. Representatives Tana Senn and Tom Dent understand the content of the bill as well as the politics of getting it through. This biennium there is another facilities grant that includes funding for technical support for providers, to ensure that the grants can go to smaller providers. With the solution to the McCleary decision districts are in a tight spot with special ed, and if it doesn’t get fixed this session, it will move toward the head of the line in the next session. Finally, Frank addressed the issue of advisory groups; DCYF has 48, and is looking to consolidate, create or adjust those groups. “We can slow walk and pencil whip this work in to meaninglessness. The influence of parents and partners needs to be heard. We have to be less agency-ish and more shoulder-to-shoulder.”