WFIS attended today’s Washington Care and Youth Development Recovery Workgroup hosted by Nicole Rose, Director of Eligibility and Provider Supports at DCYF (Department of Children, Youth & Families).  Also in attendance were personnel with Childcare Resources, DOH, King County, State Licensing, DEEL, EMO, SEIU, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, OSPI.
The meeting began with an introduction of Katie Chennisi, the new COVID-19 External Affairs Lead at Department of Health and details (being) shared regarding the CDC update on masking for those who are fully vaccinated outlined below:
  • Fully vaccinated individuals can participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues. People are considered fully vaccinated ≥2 weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or ≥2 weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen).
  • We are working with L&I to understand if/how this will be applied in the workplace and for employees.
  • Infographic on safer activities:
From there DCYF provided a high-level overview of the Fair Start For Kids Act passage, $391M in stabilization grants, virtual licensing visits.  The Fair Start for Kids Act, sponsored by Rep. Tana Senn and Senator Claire Wilson, includes policy and funding for Working Connections Childcare (WCCC), ECEAP, the State’s Headstart Program, support for all providers and more support for the youngest children. DCYF began internal “scoping meetings” this week to understand the details of the policy and funding then outline implementation plans.  In mid-to-late May they will come out with key information.  The subsidy program—Working Connections— has some pieces that must be implemented by July 1, but for everything else they have 1 year to build the pathways forward.
WFIS is dissecting what the parameters are for the $391M in Stabilization Grants from the federal government outlined by the Fair Start Act and the budget bill.  DCYF has 2 years to get the Stabilization Grant funding out to providers with preference for most funding to be spent the first year.
Over 3,400 providers have already applied for the Spring 2021 COVID-19 Child Care Grant.  The deadline to apply is May 20, 2021 by 12:00 Noon. All licensed providers are eligible. 
Child Care Licensing Administrator, Judy Bunkelman & Senior Child Care Administrator, Travis Hansen presented an update on licensing.  They conveyed that virtual monitoring visits will continue as long as necessary for the health and safety of those involved.  If there is an issue, then licensors will show up in person. They are working on developing a recovery plan for licensing that will phase in health and safety verification of onsite monitoring visits.  As things return to normal, DCYF will be getting out in the field more and they are already prioritizing initial applications.
If providers have a need, they should reach out and licensing will try to respond. DCYF reported receiving positive feedback on the virtual licensing visits from providers.  WFIS is strongly encouraging providers to complete the surveys they are receiving after virtual visits, with  a couple of things to make sure to comment on:
  • Providers prefer scheduled and shorter visits.  Expectations that a Director can be off the floor for four hours is unreasonable and not good for children.
  • Licensors should continue to act as a resource, and not as a compliance officer. This helps motivate Directors and encourages those working in the field.
Lastly, for schools using subsidies for after school students, the school-age WAC is on course for implementation on June 1.