WFIS is on the complex and often redrawn front lines of early learning. This front line includes but is not limited to: the Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) which is the official ‘catch all’ advisory committee established through legislation to advise the Department of Children, Youth and Families. Providers, legislators, OSPI & DEL staff, nonprofit advocacy organizations, and WFIS all have an official seat at the table. Chelle Downey-Magee is our ELAC representative.
Legislators ask agencies like the Department of Children, Youth and Families to create workgroups or task forces to take on specific projects. Once such workgroup in full force this fall is the Equivalents Workgroup. It is responsible for figuring out certification requirements for new early learning teachers and determine the future of ongoing professional education requirements for established teachers. Hilary Prentice and Suzie Hanson are WFIS’ representatives on the Equivalents Workgroup.
Many nonprofit organizations are involved in shaping the early learning priorities for the legislators. These groups have unique perspectives and often compete for center stage. In order to organize the competing priorities, there is an alliance of all of the early learning nonprofit organizations called the Early Learning Action Alliance (ELAA). WFIS was sought after to join the group because of WFIS’ legislative influence. Each year ELAA hosts weekly meetings for the lobbyists and monthly meetings for the Executive Directors of all of the organizations to collaborate, debate and create an advocacy agenda the every ELAA member can support. The lobbyists work together to move the advocacy agenda forward.
These are a few of the ways WFIS is on the frontline of early education. The issues that are most hotly debated are: A single curriculum for all programs; Standards for “QUALITY”– accreditation vs. Early Achievers; Subsidy rates; the unionization of early learning teachers; the licensing of 4-hour preschools.
WFIS’ goal is to protect the high quality programming provided by the widely diverse private schools in Washington. We do not want mandatory curriculum. We believe accreditation should count as equivalent to the State Early Achievers Programs. We believe if public schools do not need to license their early learning programs, private schools should also be exempt. The rigid and complex stipulations of teacher unionization create too many drawbacks for private schools. We support the efforts of legislators to increase subsidy rates so that all programs are able to include families and communities struggling to pay for childcare.