Early learning fares well in tough session

The Legislature adjourned on Monday night, after a special session in which they found a way to close a $2.8 billion revenue shortfall. That’s in addition to $9 billion in cuts already made to the 2009-2011 biennial budget.

As we expected, the budget is filled with tough choices that will affect real people. In the end, though, our Governor and Legislature demonstrated that our state’s youngest learners are still a top priority.

The supplemental operating budget is a big document, and we are still analyzing it and determining how it affects early learning funding. An initial overview of the impacts from the budget on Department of Early Learning (DEL) programs:

  • Transfer of the Infant Toddler Early Intervention Program from the Department of Social and Health Services to DEL effective July 1, and renames it Early Support for Infants and Toddlers. More about this exciting move soon!
  • Reduction of 29 slots in our Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP).
  • Funding for the Washington State Child Care Resource & Referral Network in FY 2011 is reduced ($212,000 savings).
  • Savings in the Working Connections Child Care subsidy program:
    • Allowing single parents with children under the age of 6 to meet 20 hours per week of work participation hours rather than the current 32 hours per week ($11 million savings).
    • Asking DEL to reduce and transfer staff and enter into a memorandum of agreement with DSHS to provide WCCC policy operations support. The budget language still indicates that DEL is the lead agency for and recipient of the federal Child Care and Development Fund grant.
  • Funds for home visiting services are transferred from the Council for Children and Families to DEL. DEL will contract with Thrive by Five Washington to deliver these services ($300,000 transfer). An additional $200,000 is provided for Thrive in the home visiting services account to be administered by DEL.
  • New funding and staff support for DEL and OSPI to implement SSB 6759, requiring DEL and OSPI to convene a technical working group to develop a comprehensive plan for a voluntary program of early learning, is provided to DEL.
  • New funding is provided for DEL to contract with Reach Out and Read for early literacy programs ($150,000).
  • Child care licensing:
    • DEL is authorized to increase child care center licensure fees in FY 2011.
    • DEL is required to submit a plan for improving child care licensing to the Legislature by January 15, 2011 (no additional funds provided).
  • Along with many state agencies, DEL is also facing administrative reductions.