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October 1, 2012

Washington Department of Early Learning, higher education system work together to provide child care professionals a career boost

Through a federal grant opportunity, child care providers in Washington now have better access higher education to improve care for children across the state.

Washington’s Department of Early Learning (DEL) and the state’s community and technical colleges are partnering to give child care providers a clearer path to advancing their skills to ensure children are ready for success in school. College representatives and DEL staff developed three new “stackable” certificates that allow early learning professionals to build their education toward a single, statewide early childhood education credential, equaling a one-year certificate. These certificates are reflected on the Washington State Career Lattice and include common courses, titles, and descriptions at participating colleges to increase successful student outcomes.

Starting this fall, three community colleges – Olympic, Pierce, and Yakima Valley – will offer stackable credentials, academic advisors to help ECE students connect to educational and community resources, and financial aid, called Early Achievers Opportunity Grants. These grants are funded by the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge federal grant, awarded to Washington in December 2011. Funds are set aside for ECE students who are employed in a child care facility that participates in Early Achievers, Washington’s child care quality rating and improvement system. For qualifying low-income students, Early Achievers Opportunity Grants pay for tuition, books and other student resources, such as tutoring.

In winter quarter, four more colleges will join this effort – Highline, Clark, Lower Columbia, and Bates Technical. All other state community and technical colleges with an early childhood education program will be eligible to offer grants by Fall 2013.

This effort is a significant achievement for Washington in creating a clear professional development track for all child care providers. The new certificates are directly aligned with the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant goals: build a strong, cohesive, consistent professional development system, respond to unique community needs, and provide valuable instruction.

For more information, visit DEL’s website.

Media contact:

Kara Klotz
360.725.4392 (office)
360.515.8699 (cell)

The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges is led by a Governor-appointed board and provides leadership, advocacy, and coordination for Washington’s system of 34 public community and technical colleges. Each year, nearly 500,000 students train for the workforce, prepare to transfer to a university, gain basic math and English skills, or pursue continuing education. Contact Laura McDowell, 360-704-4310 or