Much has happened over the course of these summer months in the early learning realm. WA KIDS is now implemented statewide in public schools. WA KIDS is the testing system for Kindergarteners to determine “School Readiness” and has a whole new team in Olympia.
The Department of Health is asking for input from the community on the following:
- Looking for help on maternal health survey
- Wondering about the barriers to well-child visits
- Help Me Grow—developmental screening and information
- Developmental screening for infant mental health
Additionally, the Department of Early Learning is working on concerns regarding Unlicensed Childcare through a specific Campaign. At the ELAC meeting, Deanna Stewart talked about the progress made on the unlicensed childcare campaign then asked for feedback. An informational video will be developed following input from multiple focus groups and a robust review to address the following issues:
- Access to licensed care is a huge issue
- DEL has a responsibility to protect the children
- Consistent approach to enforcement needed.
- Accounting for cultural relevance of having friends and family taking care of your child
- Question: Please share any experiences you’ve had with unlicensed care facilities or friends and families utilizing unlicensed care in your community.
August 1, 2017 was the deadline for providers who serve children <5 years old and take subside to complete the EA level 2 requirements.
- 2637 of 2729 had completed the requirements
- A higher percentage of non-English speaking (99.4%) providers than English speaking (94.8%) providers completed the requirements
- 102 providers have yet to complete the requirements; DSHS has provided assistance to the families they serve in finding other care (237 children)
- 297 providers dropped off; 150 new providers have registered;
- English is the primary language of 58% of those that exited, 67% of those that entered.
Many at the meeting concur that the effect of the $15 minimum wage cannot be fully predicted but needs to be looked at in the rear-view mirror over time.
The afternoon ELAC presenter was Frank Ordway, Assistant Director of DEL, who shared the following:
- McCleary decision,
- Family Leave Bill
- Creation of the Department of Children Youth and Families.
- Home visits—DEL has assumed the responsibility of contracting, the program is still shared with THRIVE.
- ECEAP got 1800 more slots and a 6% administrative increase
- Working Connections got a 6% increase across the board
The program has failed audits. There’s not an auditable trail between DSHS and DEL
Providers have stepped up in terms of quality
- Time and attendance system
State will fully fund a new system that will work on computers, tablets and phones
It will provide a reliable system for start and stop times
Failed audits over the last 10 years.
“We have to actually address this; if we own it, take responsibility for it, we can ask for help.”
- Local Funding Pathways
No budget restrictions
Allows local dollars to be used to buy state services
- Outdoor Preschool
“There are fewer things that DEL is less prepared to do than license the outdoors.”
The outdoor preschools approached DEL knowing the early learning landscape. The can pay people more because they don’t pay rent for buildings. It’s a 4-year pilot project, with all the rights and responsibilities of a licensed provider
Legislature DID NOT Fund:
- Facilities bill that passed
- The dual language bill
- Trauma-informed care—residential, high support interventions for high trauma families—Childhaven does it, but not everywhere in the state so it can’t be federally funded.
- Business support around the retention of providers
- Regulations in general—negotiated rulemaking continues with the revision of the WACs.
A supplemental session is coming, along with “fix it in the supplement” corrections.
Department of Children Youth and Families.
The early learning community will no longer have their own department. It’s been a cornerstone and provided a rallying point for very focused conversations about early learning.
Allocations for the new DCYF didn’t keep pace with the construct of the bill. The agency is created on Day 1 (August 1, 2017). Ross Hunter moved to another office with a very small staff to get started on the change. Heather Moss is the new head of DEL.
By December the DCYF agency’s to-do list includes:
- Establish a mechanism for partnerships
- Establish outcomes for the new agency
- Build lines of communication with other state agencies
- Create a stakeholder advisory mechanism (DEL has 28 advisory groups)
- Create an external review protocol
- Integrate existing technologies
- Create an oversight board
- Have robust outreach, both talking and listening
- The consolidation of Working Connections—it’s massive, with lots of connections to other programs
WFIS ELAC Representative Chelle Downey-Magee, principal of Issaquah Montessori School, attended the August 1 ELAC meeting in Yakima as the voice for private schools. WFIS greatly appreciates Chelle’s commitment to understand and relay the detailed information presented at this all day meeting with state officials and interest groups.