WFIS’ ELAC Representative and Issaquah Montessori Director Chelle Downey-Magee graciously shares her insights from all ELAC and Licensed Center Advisory Subcommittee (LCAS) meetings.
The August 14th Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) meeting was held at The Historic Davenport in Spokane, led by co-chair Lois Martin. After positive words about summer activities the group got down to business. Much of the focus was about the transition from the Department of Early Learning (DEL) to the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF).
The first item of business was a report from the Compensation Technical Workgroup, presented by Nicole Rose from DCYF. This workgroup was formed as part of the 2017 state budget, to address four areas: increasing childcare workforce wages, maintaining current workforce diversity, reducing turnover and recruiting more qualified educators. The workgroup is currently drafting their report and planning the community feedback process. The public comment period for the report is scheduled to begin in September, and the final report will be delivered to the Governor and Legislature by December 1, 2018.
Next, Vickie Ybarra and Shehreen Johnson from the DCYF office of Innovation, Alignment and Accountability presented their work on the vision, mission and values of DCYF. Before July 1, their office had five staff, with staff coming over from Children’s Administration and DEL, they currently have 30 staff, and have moved in to one office space. The legislation that created DCYF specified that the work of the department would be data-focused with aligned outcomes and shared accountability. The three broad categories for child outcomes are: education, health and resilience. By late August, the outcome goals should be ready for presentation and feedback. Again, the final report will be delivered to the legislature.
DCYF licensing statues and regulations must be enforced consistently, and to that end, DCYF is implementing an inter-rater reliability pilot and training. Kandi Latimer and Debbie O’Neil spoke about training licensors to use the new WACs and new policies and procedures. Inter-rater reliability is a process rather than a one-and-done task. It’s about quality, continuous improvement and consistency. The expectation is that no matter which licensor shows up, the results of the visit will be the same. The alignment awareness and education campaign begin in September 2018 for DCYF staff, community and providers. From January through e-learning and in-person deep dive trainings occur for the same groups, with shared learning opportunities. As Kandi and Debbie stated, “inter-rater reliability needs the art and grace of learning together,” with the message delivered in one room. They’d like to get more providers involved with the inter-rater reliability pilot; to become involved email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, Frank Ordway spoke about the 2019 legislative session. He suggested that after the mid-term elections there will be lots of new people to talk to in Olympia; we should get to know the candidates now, so that after they’re elected we’ll already be known quantity. Early childhood education matters to candidates because most are small businesses, many owned by women. DCYF is working to have their 2019 budget requests turned in by early September. The governor will turn in his budget in mid-December; then the legislature begins work on their budget when they convene in early January. DCYF is requesting funds for: childcare subsidy rate increases, increased home visiting, early support for infants and toddlers, minor and custody protection, and technical fixes from the DCYF merger.
Frank’s very last item was the Early Achievers Program, Joint Select Committee. They’ve been given a list of specific things to review related to Early Achievers. He stressed that they need to hear from us and urged us to send in our thoughts. The list of committee members, and their contact information can be found at: http://leg.wa.gov/JointCommittees/EAP/Pages/Members.aspx.
It is apparent that a large group of very smart, passionate people at DCYF are doing a great deal of thoughtful, data-driven work on behalf of children and families. Chelle Downey-Magee has conveyed appreciation for the opportunity to serve on this council.