Archive for April 2010

Public forums provided valuable feedback on family home rules

During the past three weeks, DEL staff members have visited eight cities throughout the state to collect comments on recommended changes to the licensed family home child care rules. To view the recommended draft rules, click here.

About 200 attendees total were at the eight meetings. We visited Tumwater, Vancouver, Everett, Seattle, Kent, Spokane, Pasco and Wenatchee.

“Some of the provider groups had been meeting prior to the forums to review and draft comments. Some were hearing the information for the first time,” said Judy Jaramillo, DEL policy analyst. “I was impressed with the passion that was expressed by the participants. We received some very valuable input and will continue to compile the comments as we move forward with the next draft.”

DEL is revising rules for licensed family home child care in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) chapter 170-296, using a unique process called “negotiated rule making.” Recommendations came from the Negotiated Rule Making Team, which included a large representation of child care providers, SEIU staff, DEL staff, Child Care Resource & Referral staff, provider advocates and parent advocates. For more information about the team and the process, visit our negotiated rule making web page.

The next steps will be for DEL to review all the comments, then write the next draft. For questions about the process, e-mail

When the new WAC is adopted in December 2010 it will completely replace the current rules. Until the final draft is adopted, the current Family Home WAC is still in effect.

Thank you to everyone who participated and provided feedback during this important process!

Tribal Conference builds knowledge, partnerships in Tacoma

About 180 people from tribal early learning programs around the state gathered on Friday and Saturday at the 2010 Tribal Early Care & Education Conference at Hotel Morano in Tacoma.
The event opened with a prayer and song from Connie McCloud of the Puyallup Tribe, followed by welcoming remarks from DEL Director Bette Hyde (see photo at right).

Hyde described the many state programs and initiatives that tribal representatives have provided feedback on and helped create, including the draft Early Learning Plan, the pilot Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) and the review of the Washington State Early Learning and Development Benchmarks.

“Our state efforts are better for the conversations with the tribes,” she said.

Keynote speaker Dr. Martin Brokenleg, of Reclaiming Youth International, had the audience both laughing and in tears with stories of children’s resiliency and uniqueness. His talk focused on four key areas that can help build strength of spirit in a child: a sense of belonging, generosity, belonging and mastery.

“Your students will forget what you say to them, but they won’t forget how you make them feel,” he said. Brokenleg encouraged providers to see the future possibilities all children have within themselves.

DEL sponsors this conference to build partnerships and provide learning opportunities for those who work for or are affiliated with a tribal early learning program. In break-out sessions, participants learned about creating a baby-friendly environment, fun kids’ activities, and adding song into their programs (see photo at left of presenter Lorraine Bayes) as well as other topics.

To learn more about ways DEL partners with Tribal Nations, visit our website.

DEL Parent Advisory Group: Informing early learning in Washington

The DEL Parent Advisory Group (PAG) met April 15 and 16 to give DEL input on policies and programs. This enthusiastic group contains individuals from around the state who represent families who use state services such as child care subsidies and our free preschool program, as well as diverse family structures such as grandparents raising children, foster parents and blended families. Click to learn more about the group.

A highlight for parents was a great conversation about strengthening early learning and building strong local programs with DEL Director Bette Hyde and state Representative Ruth Kagi (see photo, above right).

At last week’s meeting, members also provided valuable input on recommended changes to the family home child care rules. The group discussed how a child care provider can support young children in getting their needs met, helping them learn to get along with others, and preparing them for success in school, including:
  • How family home child care settings can support diversity: family traditions shared in the family child care home, as well as books, toys and foods that represent our diverse society. Exposing kids to multiple languages is a plus, too!
  • How child care providers can use enrollment time to learn about the child and the family, including learning about the child’s unique characteristics, strengths and needs.
  • Outdoor environments, health procedures, emergency preparedness, overnight care and screen time in family home settings.
This valuable input will be used in developing the family home licensing rules. Everyone can provide input to these rules by visiting the Rules Comment Page between now and the end of April.

With the generous support of our private partner, Thrive by Five Washington, the parents participated in two action-packed days at the DEL state office in Lacey. We appreciate our PAG’s wisdom, insight and honesty!

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.

Washington one of six states chosen for NGA policy academy

Exciting news for the Department of Early Learning and for families in our state: Our state is one of only six in the nation selected for an upcoming “policy academy” with the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices!

So what does this mean? These six states (us, along with Oregon, Kansas, Louisiana, Rhode Island and Vermont) will receive interactive support and guidance from national experts to help us with a key early learning initiative important to our state. For Washington, that means our continued efforts on Seeds to Success, our quality rating and improvement system. The purpose of a QRIS is to help improve quality in child care and give families information about how to determine quality.

This support from the NGA will help us as we create a clear action plan for the next phase of Seeds to Success testing, so that we can create a QRIS that is sustainable, and supports child care providers in ensuring quality child care environments for children. In addition to DEL, the Washington team includes representatives from Thrive by Five Washington, educational service districts, the Department of Social and Health Services, and the University of Washington.

Read the NGA press release announcing the six states that will be part of the Ready States: A Project to Develop Key Components of State Early Childhood Infrastructure policy academy.

Week of the Young Child

It’s the Week of the Young Child, a great opportunity to talk about why early learning is so important! The week is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). (Check out resources there too.)

Experts now know that about 85 percent of brain development happens in the first three years. That’s faster than any other time in life. What does that mean for parents, child care providers, teachers and other important adults in kids’ lives? It means we all need to work to together to help create high-quality learning opportunities to take advantage of those growing brains!

Learning is much more than colors, shapes, numbers and letters. Learning begins at birth. It’s made up of everyday opportunities like singing songs, playing hand games, and comforting your child when she’s upset. Kids who have nurturing and supportive experiences in their early years are much better prepared to succeed in school and life.

So what can you do to help celebrate this exciting phase of development with a child in your life?

Take advantage of everyday learning moments.

Click here for a list to get you started from our private partner, Thrive by Five Washington.

Attend a library, zoo or park with a child

Click here to find Web sites that can help you find activities in your area.

Learn about child development

The Washington State Early Learning and Development Benchmarks are early learning guidelines that are helpful in understanding what young children may know and do at different ages. They are a research-based tool to support parents, early learning educators and caregivers in helping children grow and learn. This is only a resource document—every child develops as an individual in the context of his family, culture and community.  Click here for a guide for parents.

Register for Tribal Conference

Only a few days are left to register for this year’s Tribal Early Care & Education Conference on April 16 and 17. DEL sponsors this event to build partnerships and provide learning opportunities for those who work for or are affiliated with a tribal early learning program. The event is free for eligible early learning professionals and will offer break-out sessions and networking opportunities. The deadline for registration is April 12.

“This conference is a wonderful chance for those who work with tribal early learning programs to gather and learn from each other,” DEL Director Bette Hyde said. “We all share a common goal of creating fun environments where kids can grow and learn.”

This year, the conference will take place at Hotel Morano in Tacoma and feature keynote speaker Dr. Martin Brokenleg, who serves as a Vice President of Reclaiming Youth International, providing training for individuals who work with youth at risk. He’ll talk about how those who work with young children have an opportunity to help positively strengthen children from within.

Dr. Brokenleg is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, practicing the culture of his Lakota people.

Conference breakout sessions include: creating effective circle times; recycling items for art; preparing for and responding to emergencies; preserving language for tribal children; and storytelling, literacy and language.
Almost 200 participants representing the majority of the 29 federally recognized Tribal Nations in Washington attended the last conference hosted by the Tulalip Tribes. (See photo from that conference during a group activity).

Attendees are responsible for room and travel costs. Eleven STARS hours or NWIC credit are available.

To register, visit  For the Hotel Morano, call 866.986.8083 and reference the conference name to obtain the conference rate.

Restructuring at DEL

In the April DEL Update newsletter, we announced some changes at DEL that took effect April 1. Changes include three new divisions:

  • Licensing Oversight Division - Ensure our child care licensing and subsidy work is aligned, based in research and best practice, and reflect reality in the field for our licensors, for providers, and for families.
  • Partnership & Collaboration Division - Ensure we are working with partners to implement the statewide Early Learning Plan and build an early learning system.
  • Outcomes & Accountability Division - Ensure we are accountable for results, so that we know the extent to which our programs positively impact school readiness for children, families, schools and communities.
These new divisions will be head by two existing DEL staff – Bob McLellan and Kelli Bohanon – and a new addition, Bonnie Beukema, who will start on April 16. DEL’s 18 field offices, which are responsible for our child care licensing work, remain the same, with continued oversight by our three Service Area Managers. You can read more about our new divisions and meet our team by visiting our DEL Leadership page on our Web site.

Would you like to receive our monthly newsletter and other updates from DEL? Sign up with your e-mail address for our DEL-NEWS listserv or e-mail for help. More than 3,000 people statewide already receive our occasional news updates.

Tell us what you think of the plan!

What plan, you ask? The draft Early Learning Plan, which is the “blueprint” for how we work in the coming years to build an early learning system that supports school readiness for all children in Washington.

School readiness means more than a child knowing her ABCs and 123s. It’s about making sure families, communities, early learning professionals and schools are ready to ensure children have a strong start in life. That’s what the plan is meant to do.

DEL is working with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction as well as our private partner, Thrive by Five Washington and others, to create the plan. But we need your input! Please visit between now and the end of April to read the draft plan, and to take a survey telling us what you like and what seems to be missing.

This plan will be finalized later this year. It will inform decisions about early learning funding and programs for years to come. Make sure your voice is heard!

Phone message to providers today about subsidy booklets

Licensed and certified child care providers received an automated phone call from DEL today letting them know about two new subsidy billing publications. DEL has revised the publication ― Child Care Subsidies: A Booklet for Licensed and Certified Child Care Providers and written a new publication ― Child Care Subsidies: A Booklet for In-Home and Relative Providers.

Why are these booklets important? They contain information about the billing rules and how to correctly bill for child care subsidies. Child care subsidies are an important tool to help Washington families pay for safe, healthy care for their children while parents are working, looking for a job, or taking classes. The largest program, Working Connections Child Care and Child, helps about 35,000 families a month, or 60,000 children. That’s a lot of kids!

Both booklets are available on the DEL Web site in English and Spanish. Click here to see the booklets.

For more information about applying for child care subsidies, click here.

Governor signs child care subsidy bill

Governor Chris Gregoire just an hour ago signed House Bill 3141, which directs DEL to create a 12-month authorization period in the Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) subsidy program for families with children enrolled in Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), or a Head Start or Early Head Start program. This change goes into effect July 1.  (See photo of bill signing ceremony at right.)

Currently, WCCC authorization periods for families vary based on several factors, and families have to reapply again when the authorization period is complete. This can sometimes lead to gaps in coverage, during which parents have to pull their children out of care.

DEL and the Department of Social and Health Services will report to the Legislature by September 1, 2011, about whether this change promotes more stable child care enrollment for children, what program costs are, and whether the change results in any administrative savings. We also will be submitting recommendations for whether to expand the 12-month authorization period to additional families.

The Governor vetoed other sections, including section 3, which would have directed the Washington WorkFirst subcabinet to reevaluate the WorkFirst program and develop recommendations to redesign the state’s use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds. The Governor said she already has asked her WorkFirst subcabinet to begin this work (DEL Director Bette Hyde sits on this subcabinet).