Archive for June 2010

MERIT available for trainers and training organizations

The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is excited to announce that trainers and training organizations are now able to use the new Managed Education and Registry Information Tool (MERIT).

MERIT replaces the State Training and Registry System (STARS) database as the place to house information on STARS-approved training, training organizations and early learning professionals. DEL took the STARS database offline on April 1 to create a stronger, more user-friendly tool.

Starting today, current STARS-approved trainers and training organizations can:
  • Add present and future training offers to MERIT; and
  • Create, modify and delete trainings from MERIT
To sign in to MERIT for the first time, trainers and organizations will need the username and temporary password that DEL sent you. If you had problems receiving this information, contact Only current STARS-approved trainers and training organizations have access to MERIT at this time.
DEL hosted a webinar today to introduce trainers to the tool. Information will be made available after the training for those who missed the webinar at

Early learning professionals, including child care providers, will get access to MERIT at a later date to record training history and search available trainings. Child care providers must still follow licensing rules and take required STARS-approved trainings.

For STARS information, visit

DEL, OSPI announce WaKIDS pilot sites

Incoming kindergarteners from Anacortes to Quincy will be part of the pilot of the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) during school year 2010-2011! Click to see a list of all participating school districts and schools and learn more about the pilot. Districts were notified earlier this week.

UPDATE (5:10 p.m. June 18): A little Friday afternoon brain fog caused us to post the applicant list, not the selected pilot site list. The current, final list is what's now available at the above link.

We are excited that so many school districts chose to apply. It shows the real and deep commitment in our state to our youngest learners. In the end, each of the 54 districts that applied are represented in the pilot. By being part of the pilot, districts have the opportunity to help inform the WaKIDS process. We are piloting WaKIDS to learn more about how best to support a smooth transition for children from the first five years of life into kindergarten and beyond!

The Department of Early Learning and Office of Superintendent chose the pilot participants using a sample plan to ensure the pilot represents the diversity of our state. DEL and OSPI are leading this work, in consultation with Thrive by Five Washington. Thrive, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have contributed private funding to support the pilot.

You have until Friday to give input on the draft Early Learning Plan!

This Friday, June 18, is the last day to share your thoughts on the draft Early Learning Plan. After that, the public comment period will close and all comments will be reviewed and considered for the plan. need convincing? Check out the video of Department of Early Learning Director Bette Hyde talking about the plan and why your voice needs to be heard!

The plan will be adopted this fall. Go to to read the draft and take a short survey.

Why should you share your input on the draft plan? Because this is the roadmap for building an early learning system in Washington in the coming years. It will affect children, families, and all those who care for children or work on issues related to early learning. DEL is leading the effort to create this plan, along with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Thrive by Five Washington, and other partners.

Child care centers to see fee increase on July 1

Beginning July 1, the Legislature has directed DEL to increase the yearly licensing fee for centers and school-age centers to $100 for the first 12 children, plus $8 per child up to your licensed capacity.

This increase will go into the state’s general fund, and will not go directly to DEL. For more information and to view the emergency rules, visit the DEL Rules Under Development section.

DEL plans to adopt permanent rules for this rate change by late 2010. There will be future opportunities for public input.

For questions, e-mail

WaKIDS school districts to be announced next week!

With more than 50 school districts applying for the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) pilot this fall, we need just a few more days to finalize the selection of participating districts.

The final application count represented 5,700 kindergarten students and 253 classrooms! The pilot will include 120 kindergarten classrooms and 3,000 incoming kindergarten students.

You can expect the list of WaKIDS pilot participants to be online early next week. In the meantime, visit to learn more about this exciting work that will help us better support a smooth transition from early learning into the K-12 system for our youngest learners!

Add your voice to the “licensing reboot”

This week licensed child care providers should be receiving a letter from DEL explaining a new project we’re calling the “licensing reboot.”

DEL Director Bette Hyde has spent much of the last year traveling around the state meeting with DEL licensing staff and with licensed providers. Some things are working very well in licensed child care, and some things can be improved. The “licensing reboot” is a simple but structured way for us to hear from providers and make improvements as needed.

Check out to learn about the project, then take the survey in:


The survey is optional and anonymous. We want to hear your voice!

ECEAP success stories: We love 'em!

We hear so many wonderful stories about how a child has flourished in our Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), and are excited that this state-funded preschool program will be available to all eligible children by 2018, thanks to House Bill 2731 sponsored by Rep. Roger Goodman. Here’s a recent success story from an ECEAP site in southwest Washington about a 3-year-old boy:

The boy had been demonstrating angry and aggressive behaviors at home and in the community. Both his pediatrician and the worker at WIC had recommended mental health services for the child. He exhibited extreme anxiety and anger arriving at school, hitting mom, his brother and the teacher. For several months the child refused to extend himself in the environment—he would not grasp anything in his hand (cup, marker, toy, food, etc.). He would not talk or interact with anything or anyone.

The teachers invited him to participate at every opportunity but did not force interactions. The ECEAP site team quickly involved their mental health consultant and made an outside referral for therapy with a bilingual therapist (this child did not speak English). The family gets four hours of in-home support a week and weekly therapy sessions. Efforts to draw him out and to help him feel successful in the classroom were constantly evaluated by the mom and staff together and new strategies employed. In late winter he began to eat in class, to hold toys, and to participate in art projects. He then started to speak to another child in his native language and was observed smiling and delighting in the interactions of others in the class.

Photos taken at the end of the year show a smiling 4-year-old comfortably lying in the grass looking up at his peers. The team saw amazing social emotional development in the ECEAP class, and mom saw similar changes at home. Best of all: He will be able to return to ECEAP this next school year!