The Early Start Act

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With the passage of the Early Start Act on July 6, 2015, lawmakers provided an opportunity for all children to arrive at school ready to learn; for families to break the cycle of poverty; and for state communities to reap the rewards and the return on investment we know comes from high-quality early learning. This act has been a driving force for new initiatives and improvements at the Department of Early Learning (DEL). Learn how we are accomplishing all of the mandates set out in the Early Start Act by reading below.

 

Early Start Act Annual Report
Every year the Department of Early Learning (DEL) submits a report on the progress of implementing Early Start Act mandates. To read the latest report, click here
 
To read past reports and executive summaries, click here
 
Standards Alignment
The Early Start Act mandated that DEL update our WAC so that the early learning system has a unified set of regulations that are easy to understand by providers.  Learn how DEL is streamlining and aligning standards for Family Homes and Centers here.
 
Learn how we’re creating a progression of standards and regulations between licensed childcare, Early Achievers, and ECEAP by clicking here
 
Early Achievers Participation
Beginning August 1, 2016, licensed child care and early learning providers offering services to children and families that qualify for Working Connections Child Care subsidies must be enrolled in Early Achievers to maintain subsidy authorization. Learn more about the supports and benefits of Early Achievers here
 
12 Month Eligibility for Subsidy
Families qualifying for state subsidized Working Connections Child Care now automatically receive 12 months of eligibility. This will give providers a better sense of the number of children they’ll be serving over a longer, and more consistent period of time, and means a more predictable source of income. Find out more here.  
 
Child Care Check
DEL created a single source of information for parents and caregivers to access details on a provider's early achievers program rating level, licensing history, and other indicators of quality and safety that will help parents and caregivers make informed choices.  Visit Child Care Check here
 
ECEAP Requirements
Washington’s state-funded preschool program, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program or ECEAP, was bolstered as part of the Early Start Act. Learn more about ECEAP participation in Early Achievers and how we’re expanding the system here
 
Research Based Cultural Competency Standards
The Early Start Act charged DEL with recommending guidelines for culturally responsive early learning professional training. Read the report that DEL produced and learn how you can incorporate these guidelines into your practice here
 
Racial Equity and Diversity
The Early Start Act has numerous, strong mandates for supporting diverse providers and families. Check out our Racial Equity Initiative webpage to learn how we’re doing at fulfilling those mandates, and how we’re developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy to strengthen DEL’s capacity to advance racial equity and eliminate disparities in child outcomes. 
 
Research, Data, and Analysis
The Early Start Act ensured that DEL’s policy decisions and funding of programs would be grounded in strong data and analysis. To find out more about our Research and Data Analysis team and how they’re improving our understanding of provider, children, and family experiences and outcomes, click here.
 
Early Learning Advisory Council and the Early Achievers Review Subcommittee
Early Learning Advisory Council members provide input and recommendations to DEL so our strategies and actions are well informed and broadly supported by parents, child care providers, health and safety experts and interested members of the public. Find out about ELAC members and committee meetings here.
 
The Early Start Act charged a subgroup of the Early Learning Advisory Council to monitor DEL’s progress in implementing the Early Achievers system. Read more about the Early Achievers Review Subcommittee here
 
Joint Select Committee on Early Achievers
When the Washington State Legislature convenes this committee, we’ll link to it here. 
 
Out of School Time Quality Initiative
Building on investments in early learning, the Legislature approved a pilot to explore how best the state can support providers serving children before and after school with training and resources needed to encourage high-quality programming. The Expanded Learning Opportunity Quality Initiative (formerly known as the Out of School Time Quality Initiative) builds on the success and lessons learned from Early Achievers. Fifty programs from four counties (King, Pierce, Spokane, and Walla Walla) have been chosen to participate in a quality assessment and improvement process. Participants include licensed family homes and child care centers (who serve school-age children and families) already participating in Early Achievers; 21st Century Community Learning Centers; and other programs serving youth between the ages of 5-18 years.
 
DEL and  the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) are working in partnership with School’s Out Washington, Child Care Aware of Washington and the University of Washington to provide training, coaching and assessment using the best national research on promoting youth outcomes. During this period, staff, families and youth will also be interviewed for perspective on their respective expanded learning opportunity programs. All of this information will inform DEL, OSPI and the Legislature as they consider the state’s role in promoting high-quality school-age programs. Results from the pilot are due to the legislature in July of 2017.