WFIS representative Chelle Downey-Magee shared the scoop on the December 5 meeting. “It was positive, with several new people attending their second meeting. As always, Vickie and Frank were the highlights, and Heather Moss seemed engaged and positive. There are high hopes amongst the entire group for DCYF!”
Key topics discussed at the meeting are outlined below:
- A new subcommittee, the Licensed Care Advisory, will conduct its first in-person meeting in February. It currently has 25 members, they’d like to recruit 10 more.
- The language in the law that created the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) provides a structure for the needs of those involved in Birth to Three programs to be met in a bigger and better way—beginning with home visits and involving community colleges. The results of their current work about physical, mental and environmental health is due in June.
State Agency/Partner and Regional Coalition Updates
- OSPI reported that as of Oct. 31, kindergarten teachers across the state completed the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills. Results will be published on the State Report Card in January 2018.
- Department of Health reported that Washington is in the final year of the CDC Essentials for Childhood grant.
Vickie Ybarra, DCYF Director of Research and Policies, presented an update regarding Early Achievers providers. As is typical in research, good data causes further questioning. The big topic was the churn of providers since the beginning of Early Achievers in 2012.
- In 2012, 4558 providers provided care to children receiving subsidy
- In 2017, 3631 providers provided care to children receiving subsidy
Reduction of 927 providers though state population has increased by half a million people in these 5 yrs. The question of supply and demand has been nagging the industry for years. Where do parents take their children, why and what are their demands?
- Low income families look very different after the recession—more are likely to be two-parent families, with one parent at home. Demand appears to have shifted. Heather Moss, Director of DEL, noted that the data presented tells us that children are moving away from family care, to center care; families have fewer choices. The most underserved population is birth to 2. About 35K children in that population are eligible for subsidy: just over 13K are getting care in the Working Connections system, but that leaves 22K in informal care. Look for the publication of the Early Start Act report on the DEL website when it’s published.
Market Rate Survey and Cost of Quality Projects Description
The DEL performs a Market Rate Survey every two years, as required by the Administration of Children and Families. This time around, the survey is short and more concise, with a goal of 75% response rates for both centers and homes. The survey collection period is December – March, web-based, with translations available for Spanish and Somali-speaking providers.
The Cost of Quality Research Series began in 2016, using lengthy interviews with ECEAP providers. In 2017 Childcare Centers and Early Achievers participants responded to a very long survey. A shorter survey in 2018 will be used with Family Homes and Early Achievers participants. The variables under investigation include:
- Center experience
- Operating costs
- Demographics served
- Special needs care
- Early Achievers investment
- Employee wages and benefits
- Revenue (donations/in-kind)
- Private tuition rates
Lunch & Learn: Essentials for Childhood
Washington was one of the five states awarded a competitive, five-year CDC Essentials for Childhood grant in 2013. The grant supports collaboration to promote safe, stable nurturing relationship and environments for children and families. Or, it’s about:
- Whole child—increase kindergarten readiness
- Whole family—improve child health status
- Whole community—reduce adverse experiences
The big question for this group is: How do you give parents the resources and support when they need it? Two examples of this work done well are Help Me Grow Washington and Best Starts for Kids in King County.
Policy Development and Review
The creation of Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF), with its interagency nature, requires identifying a new regional structure, office locations and delivery of services. Options include going back to six regions to match Child Care Aware, following the Medicaid model, or the ESDs, and other combinations. This decision needs to be made quickly, as the agency needs to be up and running on July 1.
Heather Moss presented an impressive stack of Washington state maps illustrating the dissection into regions in many different and varied ways, and talked about groups that need to remain in a region (a whole tribe) or areas that are geographically close with completely different needs and demographics (Yakima and Tri-Cities). These decisions will inform staff decisions, to what degree the integrated service plans can be integrated and the division of labor and discretion between regions and Olympia.
Frank Ordway began his brief talking about big efforts and their main goal—to keep the existing system functioning through the transition from DEL to DCYF.
- There’s an immense amount of coordination required to get to the new service model, on a compressed timeline. Leadership job postings should go up in the next eight to ten weeks.
- DEL is asking for several things in the new program: home visiting, evidence of positive outcomes, and increased subsidy rates for infant/toddler care where the rates are out of whack. Supplemental budgets are supposed to be technical fixes, and the schedule is compressed in a 60-day session without a great deal of time for negotiation.
- The Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) capacity is maxed out. DEL is going to have to go to existing providers and ask them to open the door to quality subsidized care.
- DEL is excited to release an RFA for 1,000 ECEAP slots starting in the 2018-19 school year. Those interested in becoming an ECEAP provider can go to the DEL Connect page for more info.
- Workforce development and compensation suggestions need to be reasonable. Existing providers shouldn’t be forced to meet degree requirements if training isn’t available. The intent is to be aggressive in supporting improved pay and availability of training,
- The new electronic attendance system is being used with pilot groups, to ensure that it actually works in the field. Until we have a time and attendance system that is viable we will not be able to get additional funding. Implementation of this tool will allow DEL/DCYF to have statistical foundation when asking for additional resources.
- The negotiated rule-making process for the new WACs is going pretty well. The entire administrative code is changing, the licensers are adopting a whole new technology, as well as how the rules are applied and enforced. An intimate relationship needs to exist between those who write the regulations and those who are regulated. It’s taken a huge investment of time from participants, working on weekends, month after month.
2017 Reflection and 2018 Work Plan Description
Using the feedback forms during each meeting has informed what the ELAC group has done, and the topics talked about. Representation at meetings has fallen off from certain areas. This group will continue, because of statute, as it is, until June of 2019.