Archive for May 2010

Districts eager to participate in kindergarten readiness pilot

Great news! More than 50 school districts have applied to be part of the voluntary pilot of the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) for school year 2010-2011.

Applications were due May 27, and school districts selected for the pilot will be announced June 11. Nearly 50 school districts applied, representing about 230 classrooms and 5,200 students. The pilot will include 120 kindergarten classrooms and 3,000 incoming kindergarten students.

Visit to see the latest on WaKids including: a video of a licensed child care provider talking about why WaKIDS matters for early learning professionals, and questions and answers about the pilot.

DEL and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, in consultation with Thrive by Five Washington, are leading this pilot. The 2009 Legislature funded the pilot, which requires a private funding match. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Thrive have awarded the state private matching funds.

Gov. Gregoire, DEL help launch “Developing Mind Project” at UW

It’s called a megnetoencephalography machine (whew!)—but all you need to know is that it is here, and it signals a new era in child brain research. The Department of Early Learning (DEL) was proud to help host the unveiling of the “Developing Mind Project” at the University of Washington Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences this week. This project includes a one-ton machine that can safely look at the developing minds of children.

This imaging will help us better understand how and when children learn. The machine was installed at I-LABS through a mix of public and private funds (including $4 million in state funding through the state’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund).

“A big congratulations to the children of tomorrow and the parents of tomorrow, because that’s clearly what today is all about: The idea that we can unlock an amazing amount of research to assist parents and children so they can be all they want to be,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said at the unveiling. “I’m look forward to putting those discoveries to use on behalf of the children of Washington State and the children of the world.”

Photos are courtesy of UW’s Dr. Patricia Kuhl.

Extended Eligibility for Child Care Subsidies

A new state law allows a 12-month eligibility period for Working Connections Child Care (WCCC). A family may qualify for Extended Eligibility starting August 15, 2010 if:

  • A child receives services from Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), a Head Start program, or an Early Head Start program; and
  • The family is eligible for WCCC.
More information will be available soon for child care providers and families to help them understand how the changes will affect them.

As part of the new changes, DEL also is proposing changes to our WCCC rules to line up with the new law. You can check out these changes on our website and see how you can offer input.

In Washington, the Working Connections Child Care program helps about 35,000 families a month. This program is critical to helping low-income families pay for the child care they need to work, look for work, or go to school. You can read a recent New York Times article about child care subsidies here.

DEL on TVW’s Inside Olympia

Check out TVW’s Inside Olympia in which Austin Jenkins interviews Assistant Director for Outcomes and Accountability Bonnie Beukema. They cover preschool, child care subsidies and where early learning is headed in our state.

2010 market rate survey: What is it?

The 2010 market rate survey (also sometimes called the “provider survey”) is now under way in Washington!

If you are a licensed child care provider, you may have gotten a letter in the mail this week about the survey. A letter was sent to all licensed centers and to a sample of family home providers. Please take the time to go online and take the survey. If you don’t, you may get a follow-up call asking you to take the survey via phone.

So what is the market rate survey? As our state’s lead agency for the federal Child Care and Development Fund grant, DEL must conduct a survey every two years. The data is used to set child care subsidy reimbursement rates, among other things. The survey asks questions about licensed child care providers’ rates, hours, enrollment, employees and salaries, and much more.

Learn more about DEL’s role as lead state agency for the Child Care and Development Fund by visiting the Government Relations section of our website.

This survey is important—it helps paint the picture of whether our state has an adequate supply of affordable, quality child care. If you are contacted to respond, please do!

DEL seeks input on school-age child care rules

DEL is in the process of reviewing our rules related to school-age child care programs (for children ages 5 and older). If you are a school-age provider, we need your input!

Here’s how you can make sure your voice as a school-age provider is heard:

• Visit our DEL School-Age Rules page to learn how School’s Out Washington is facilitating a school-age rules rewrite group to make recommendations to DEL.

Also on that page, you can:

  • read a letter from our director, Bette Hyde, about this work.
  • read the current rules for school-age child care (Washington Administrative Code Chapter 170-151)
  • take the survey to tell us what you think about recommended changes and how they would impact you!
Your input matters. We have more than 540 licensed school-age facilities in our state, caring for up to 4,200 children. School-age care refers to all programs that operate before school, after school, and during the summer and holiday breaks.

Structured time in a school-age program can offer children opportunities to make friends, develop relationships with adult role models, and build self-esteem and conflict resolution skills.

Washington's state-funded preschool ranks high in quality again

The Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), Washington's state-funded preschool program for low-income 3- and 4-year-olds, met 9 out of 10 quality benchmarks yet again this year in a national preschool report released today.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research's "The State of Preschool 2009," ECEAP meets the benchmarks in:

  • Program standards
  • Staff-to-child ratio
  • Maximum classroom size
  • Assistant teacher degree requirements
  • Teacher specialized training
  • Meals
  • Monitoring
  • Screening/referral and support services
  • Teacher in-service
Washington does not meet NIEER's benchmark in teacher degree--ECEAP requires lead teachers to have at least an AA, while NIEER's benchmark calls for a BA for all lead teachers. Only two states (North Carolina and Alabama) met all 10 benchmarks, and only eight other states also met 9 out of 10.

We are proud of our state's high-quality preschool program! More than 8,000 children around the state are enrolled this school year. Thanks to Governor Chris Gregoire and the 2010 Legislature, even more children will have access to preschool in the coming years.

To read ECEAP's program standards, click here.
To learn more about ECEAP and whether your child might be eligible, click here.