Archive for March 2010

TVW video of early learning-related bill signings

Click below to see the TVW video of Governor Chris Gregoire signing several early learning related bills: House Bill 2731, HB 2867, Senate Bill 6593 and SB 6759.  The descriptions of the bills are included in our previous blog post below.  The full TWV video of yesterday's bill signings is available by clicking here.

Governor signs early learning bills!

Today, Governor Chris Gregoire signed several early learning bills during a packed and enthusiastic ceremony at her alma mater, Auburn High School (see photo at right). We are excited that these bills move our state forward in ensuring high-quality early learning opportunities for children and families.

The bills "recognize that learning starts from the moment that a little one greets the world,” Gov. Gregoire said. "This is a defining moment in the state of Washington."

The bills signed today are:
  • Senate Bill 6593, which transfers the Infant Toddler Early Intervention Program to DEL from the Department of Social and Health Services. It also renames the program to “Early Support for Infants and Toddlers.” This move was supported by leaders of both DEL and DSHS as a strategic way to better align early learning services under one entity.
  • Preschool bills:
    • HB 2731 phases in enrollment of additional eligible children to the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), starting in the 2013-14 school year. This is aligned with the phase-in of all-day kindergarten. ECEAP standards and eligibility criteria would be used to start, and DEL would work during the phase-in to adopt rules for program components.  Upon full implementation in the 2018-2019 school year, any eligible child will be entitled to enroll. The bill also adds children eligible for special education services, regardless of income, as a specific eligible group in ECEAP.
    • SB 6759 directs DEL and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to pull together a work group by April 1 to develop a plan for a voluntary program of early learning. The group will review the options of a pre-k program as a part of state basic education or as an entitlement, and recommend: child and provider eligibility criteria: program standards: performance measures: governance responsibilities; ECEAP’s role; funding; and timelines for implementation. Recommendations are due to the Quality Education Council (QEC) and the Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) in November 2011, with a progress report in July 2011. The QEC, after gathering input from ELAC, will submit a plan to the Legislature by July 2012. 
  • HB 2867 directs DEL, Thrive by Five Washington and ELAC to develop a plan by December 1, 2010, for creating a continuum of services and support for children birth-to-3. DEL and partners have begun this work, with an “Infant Toddler Think Tank” in December.
 The Governor previously signed SB 5617, which clarified the duties and membership of ELAC.

With the ongoing special legislative session, we are still monitoring several budget issues, including: a proviso that would require DEL to report on making child care licensing improvements; creation of a home visiting services account; and Working Connections Child Care subsidy program funding. Keep watching this blog for the latest!

State Training and Registry System (STARS) going off-line April 1

Licensed child care providers are getting a phone message today from DEL letting them know about an upcoming change in the State Training and Registry System (STARS). Starting April 1, we are taking off-line the STARS database, which is where providers and others store information about STARS training history.

You can visit our STARS Web page to read a “question and answer” document in English or Spanish about why we’re making this change and what it might mean for you as a child care professional or a STARS-approved trainer or training organization.

Please note that providers are still responsible for all STARS training requirements, and still will be able to:

  • access their STARS training history after April 1 by calling or e-mailing us
  • search online for trainers and training organizations

Preschool in the News

A common question for Department of Early Learning staff is, “What’s the difference between state licensing rules for preschools and child care facilities?” A lot!

There are many state rules for family home and child care centers. They cover everything from safety and nutrition to attendance records and staff background checks. Click here to see a list of DEL licensing rules or (WACs). Private preschools and kindergartens that operate less than four hours a day are exempt from these rules. DEL does not license or oversee private preschools.

This difference is the subject of a recent radio story from KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio. Click here to read or listen.

The story includes comments from DEL Director Bette Hyde. She explains while Governor Chris Gregoire’s proposal to increase preschool access and set certification requirements for preschools didn't pass the Legislature this year, there are still areas DEL is exploring to help support preschool programs throughout the state.

Ideas include working with our Washington State Early Learning and Development Benchmarks to help guide discussions about child development, in addition to improving partnerships between DEL, parents, preschools, child care providers and school districts. We all want kids to be healthy and ready to learn!

Eight Family Home Rules Public Meetings Scheduled for April

Eight public meetings around the draft family home rules (WACs) are now scheduled in April. Why is this exciting? It took two years, dozens of meetings and participation from child care providers, DEL licensors, children’s advocates and parents through a unique Negotiated Rule Making Process to get to this point.

Family Home WACs are the state rules for child care providers operating out of their homes. There are more than 5,500 providers in Washington caring for up to 51,140 kids who fall into this category. The draft rules cover everything from wading pools to nutrition, and from discipline to educational requirements. They would update the existing rules in WAC 170-296.

In the end, these draft rules are about keeping kids safe, healthy and learning when they are away from home. We have the members of the Negotiated Rule Making Team (see photo at left from Spring 2009) to thank for doing the hard work of researching, writing and keeping kids in mind. Now it’s your turn to give DEL some feedback! Your comments will help write the next draft.

The meetings are:
  • Friday, April 9 in Tumwater
  • Saturday, April 10 in Vancouver
  • Friday, April 16 in Everett
  • Saturday, April 17 in Seattle
  • Saturday, April 17 in Kent
  • Friday, April 23 in Spokane
  • Saturday, April 24 in Pasco
  • Saturday, April 24 in Wenatchee
Visit the DEL Web site to read the draft rules and for times, locations and directions to the public forums. Posted times are subject to change.
Want to comment right away?
  • Go online to the DEL Rules Comment page 
  •  Fax to 360.725.4939
  •  Write to the DEL Rules Coordinator:  PO Box 40970 Olympia, WA 98504-0970

Early Learning Partnership update available now

The newest update from the Early Learning Partnership is now available by clicking here!

The Partnership is an agreement between the Department of Early Learning, Thrive by Five Washington and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction about how we will work together to help ensure all children in Washington are school-ready. The priorities include our work on such areas as parenting information, early literacy and professional development.

To hold ourselves accountable for progress toward these priorities, DEL Director Bette Hyde, Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn and Thrive President and CEO Nina Auerbach meet quarterly to review progress and plan next steps. You can find out more about the Early Learning Partnership on our Web site by clicking here.

State awards early learning grants to 13 school districts

DEL, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Thrive by Five Washington awarded 13 mini-grants to help local school districts build stronger preschool-3rd grade partnerships. The total grant amount was $117,003.

Click here to see the full press release or read an excerpt below:

The grants must be used to focus on building early numeracy, developing literacy skills, or improving kindergarten transitions, three areas considered essential to ensuring school readiness. The funding can be used for teacher release time, materials, professional development, planning meetings and other activities that support enhanced preschool-third grade (P-3) partnerships.

“It just makes sense for parents, providers and educators to all work together as children approach kindergarten, one of the most important transition points in a child’s life,” DEL Director Bette Hyde said.

“Early learning includes those first years of elementary school, so we need to make sure early learning and K-12 communities are not just connecting, but partnering,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said.

“Local communities often have the best ideas, but the most limited funds,” Thrive by Five Washington President and CEO Nina Auerbach said. “These mini-grants are seed money to move promising ideas forward.”


Welcome to DEL Connect, a blog created by the Washington State Department of Early Learning (DEL)! We’re launching this blog in conjunction with a new DEL Facebook page. We created these tools to reach out to you and to encourage your feedback.

On this blog, we’ll tell you the stories of the work our staff and partners are doing around the state for kids and those who care for them. Watch the blog in the coming days and weeks for information about:

And that’s just the beginning! At the core of our work is the belief that all children deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential. The first years of life are so critical to later success, and there is a lot we can do to help parents and others support children’s growth and development.

Let us know if you’d like to read about something, and we’ll do our best to include it on these pages. Let’s make this a useful, friendly place. We have posted a blog policy and will review all comments before allowing them on this site.

Thanks, and we hope you’ll join us on this early learning adventure!