Alert: Beginning July 1, 2018, the Department of Early Learning will become the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). After June 30, 2018, this website will no longer be updated. For the latest information on early learning, visit the DCYF website at www.dcyf.wa.gov.

Early Start Act Rules Implementation

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The Early Start Act was passed during the 2015 legislative session (HB 1491, 2015). The law requires the DEL to make significant revisions to the department’s rule chapters. This page will serve as the main source of information on each of those particular rule chapter changes and will be updated as they occur. Read the Early Start Act, click: here.


New Licensing Rules


On July 19, 2016, DEL filed a pre-proposal statement of inquiry anticipating significant revisions to its licensing rules. The Early Start Act requires the agency to implement a single set of licensing standards for child care and ECEAP that:


  • provide minimum health and safety standards for child care and preschool programs;
  • use the standards established in the early achievers program to address quality issues in participating early childhood programs;>
  • take into account the separate needs of family care providers and child care centers; and
  • promote the continued safety of child care settings.

Additionally, the new licensing standards will be weighted to improve licensing enforcement and to enhance the health and safety of children in early learning settings. DEL will file proposed rules on these subjects after consideration of input received as a result of the Preproposal Statement of Inquiry.


Drafting:  Prior to drafting the aligned licensing standards, DEL engaged in a series of meetings around the state to gather early learning providers' input.  DEL released initial draft rules in April 2016 and solicited comments through June 2016.  Revised drafts were released November 2016 and comments were solicited again.


Negotiating:  DEL facilitated 220 hours of negotiation that included representatives of family homes and center child care providers, Head Start/ECEAP providers, families, and DEL licensing staff.  Negotiators' revisions to DEL's draft rules were released in October 2017 and DEL again solicited public comment.  Negotiations were held June 2017 through March 2018 and were informed by over 1,500 public comments. 


Filing proposed rules with the Code Reviser:  The negotiated rule language and weights will progress in three separate rule making actions:  


  1. Proposed new sections in chapter 170-300 WAC and amended WAC 170-300-0005 Definitions filed in May 2019 with a planned adoption at the end of the comment period.  Final rules will be filed with a delayed effective date of Summer 2019;
  2. Proposed amendments to WACs 170-300-0148 through 170-300-0465 expected to be filed in February 2019 with a planned effective date of Summer 2019; and
  3. Conduct a weight validation study after the aligned rules take effect.  Following the study, the aligned rules will be amended to include weights.

On May 9, 2018, DEL filed negotiated, proposed rules without weights.  Comments about the proposed rules will be accepted through June 27, 2018.


Related Documents


How to comment on the proposed rules:


  1. Online.  DEL Rules Comment webpage.  Click "add comment" to give input, or "view comments" to read what others have said;
  2. Attend a hearing:  June 26 @ 6:00 PM, Everett Library Auditorium, 2702 Hoyt Avenue, Everett | June 26 @ 7 PM, Chehalis Library Meeting Room, 400 N Market Blvd, Chehalis | June 27 @ 5:00 PM, Yakima Room, Greenough Conference Center, 33 S 2nd Avenue, Yakima.  Interpretation will be available upon request.  Email rules@del.wa.gov to request specific accommodation;
  3. Email the DEL rules coordinator; or
  4. By postail mail:
                                    Attn: Rules Coordinator


                                    Washington State Department of Early Learning


                                    PO Box 40970


                                    Olympia, WA 98504-0970

Standards Alignment Resources:


Interested in learning more about DEL rules? Receive information about current rules, draft rules and notices of rule changes:




DEL Files Proposed Rules To Align School-Age Program Rules With ESA Legislation Requirements



On April 17, 2017, DEL filed proposed rules to clarify that DEL does not regulate the physical facility, including outdoor playgrounds, in before-school and after-school programs that serve only school age children and operate in the same facilities used by public or private schools.  Additionally, for school-age programs not operating in facilities used by public or private schools, the proposed rules will align requirements intended to reduce children's exposure to environmental hazards with requirements for non-school age child care programs.


Related documents:


Hearing date & time:  May 24, 2017 @ 10:00 AM


Hearing location:  Baker Conference Rm 113, DEL State Office, 1110 Jefferson St SE, Olympia, Washington


Attend the public hearing or submit comments in writing before 12:00 midnight. on Thursday, May 25, 2016 by one of the following methods:


  1. Online: DEL Rules Comment webpage. Click “Add Comment” to give your input, or “View Comments" to read what others have said.

  2. Email the DEL Rules Coordinator 

  3. By postal mail: 

                                Attn: Rules Coordinator


                                Washington State Department of Early Learning


                                PO Box 40970


                                Olympia, WA 98504-0970


 



DEL Files Proposed Rules To Align WCCC and SCC Programs With ESA Legislation Requirements


On July 5, 2016, DEL filed proposed rulemaking to make revisions to WAC 170-290. The proposed rulemaking establishes 12 month eligibility with limited reporting requirements in the Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) and Seasonal Child Care (SCC) programs. The rule revisions make previously existing rules compatible with the legislation and require new and existing WCCC and SCC providers to participate in Early Achievers and demonstrate quality within statutory timeframes in order to be eligible to receive subsidy payments. The rulemaking implements the WCCC and SCC base rate increases negotiated in the State’s collective bargaining agreement with SEIU 925, and it implements a graduated phase out of families receiving WCCC and SCC benefits when their income exceeds program limits within a specified window of time as required by Reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant Act. The revisions also align with statutory changes made to RCW 43.215.135 and 43.215.1352 by the Early Start Act.


Revised WAC Chapter


WAC 170-290 – Working Connections And Seasonal Child Care Subsidy Programs


Final rules were adopted September 20, 2016 and took effect October 22, 2016.


After the final rules were adopted, WCCC program administrators discovered that one rule change was still necessary.  DEL filed an expedited rule-making notice on December 21, 2016 to remove conflicting language from WAC 170-290-0030.


The expedited rule-making process eliminates the need for DEL to hold public hearings, prepare a small business economic impact statement, or provide responses to the criteria for a significant legislative rule.  If you object to DEL's use of the expedited rule-making process, email your objects to rules@del.wa.gov or otherwise deliver written objections to P. O. Box 40970, Olympia, WA  98504-0970 [1110 Jefferson St. SE, Olympia].  Written objections must be received on or before February 21, 2017.  Objections would cause DEL to schedule a hearing and accept comment on the proposal.  If no objections are received, DEL anticipates the final rule will be adopted after February 21 and take effect in late March.


The final rule was adopted March 31, filed with the Code Reviser on April 7, and will take effect May 8, 2017.



DEL Files Proposed Rules To Clarify the Department's Background Check Rules For ECEAP


The Washington state legislature passed the Early Start Act during the 2015 legislative session, which directed DEL to adopt rules requiring fingerprint background checks for the ECEAP program. On July 5, 2016, DEL filed proposed revisions to WAC 170-100-090. The proposed rules enhance and promote the health and safety of children participating in ECEAP by clarifying who is required to obtain a fingerprint background check in order to participate in the ECEAP Program.  Hearings to receive comment on the proposed rules were held during August 2016 in Olympia and Spokane.  DEL adopted final rules that took effect January 16, 2017.



DEL Files Emergency Rules To Align WCCC and SCC Programs With ESA Legislation Requirements




On July 1, 2016, DEL filed an emergency rulemaking order to implement the Early Start Act (ESA) of 2015. The emergency rulemaking establishes 12 month eligibility with limited reporting requirements in the Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) and Seasonal Child Care (SCC) programs. The rule revisions also make previously existing rules compatible with the legislation and require new and existing WCCC and SCC providers to participate in Early Achievers and demonstrate quality within statutory timeframes in order to be eligible to receive subsidy payments. The rulemaking implements the WCCC and SCC base rate increases negotiated in the State’s collective bargaining agreement with SEIU 925, and it implements a graduated phase out of families receiving WCCC and SCC benefits when their income exceeds program limits within a specified window of time as required by Reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant Act. The revisions align with statutory changes made to RCW 43.215.135 and 43.215.1352 by the Early Start Act. The emergency rules become effective immediately, and proposed rules will be filed for these revisions in the next few weeks.



DEL Files Permanent Rules For The ECEAP Background Check Alignment


DEL filed a permanent rule making order on November 20, 2015, that will require ECEAP employees who have access to children to submit to fingerprint background checks. These rules will become effective on January 1, 2016.



DEL Files Permanent Rules to Align ECEAP with ESA Requirements


On December 16, 2015, the department filed permanent rules removing the term “nonsectarian” from the ECEAP rules in order to align the chapter with the Early Start Act. The rulemaking also created an “eligible organizations” definition to describe the type of providers who may apply to become ECEAP contractors. These rules will become effective January 16, 2016.