Archive for July 2010

Child care providers: New resources to help build children's early language/literacy skills!

We were excited to see some new research-based resources for child care providers with easy ideas for supporting early language and literacy development. Both were issued this summer by the federal National Institute for Literacy.

First, the Make Time to Talk tip sheets have simple, fun ideas for center-based and family home child care providers to help build early language skills that last a lifetime. Among the tips:

• Two-way conversations are best. The child should be doing at least half the talking.
• Tell stories to the children and ask them to tell you stories about their families and lives.
• Act out stories with the children, re-using words from the book you read aloud with the children.
• Kneel or squat to be able to have eye contact with the child.

Second, Learning to Talk and Listen: An oral language resource for early childhood caregivers, is a short booklet with information about why adult-child conversations matter and how to talk with young children.

For more information on early literacy, visit

Early Learning Advisory Council recommends approval of Early Learning Plan

During a special meeting on July 26, the state Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) reviewed the Early Learning Plan and recommended approval by the three partner agencies (Department of Early Learning, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Thrive by Five Washington).

ELAC members—many of whom were closely involved with creating the plan—discussed changes made to the plan since it was first released in draft form on Dec. 1, 2009. Those changes were based on feedback from hundreds of Washington residents through public hearings, an online survey, and targeted outreach to hard-to-reach communities.

DEL, Thrive and OSPI also contracted with a national expert to review the plan and offer suggestions about how to ensure the plan is culturally competent and reflects the rich diversity of our state.

The adopted plan — along with a three-year action plan for beginning its implementation — will be available online at on Sept. 1. Hard copies will be printed this fall in partnership with The Boeing Company.

Be sure to check online Sept. 1 to see this roadmap for building a world-class early learning system that supports all children in Washington in growing up healthy and ready for school!

DEL assistant director speaks at congressional early learning briefing on Tuesday

On Tuesday, July 27, DEL Assistant Director for Outcomes & Accountability Bonnie Beukema will be part of a congressional briefing on strengthening state early learning systems. Click here to watch a webcast of the Strengthening State Systems of Early Care and Education briefing—moderated by Cornelia Grumman, executive director of the First Five Years Fund. The briefing is in Washington, D.C., and starts at 4 p.m. ET.

Bonnie will talk about Washington’s efforts to build an early learning system that prepares all children for school through high-quality early learning programs—and our focus on better data so that we know we’re supporting successful child outcomes.

Other panelists include Holly A. Robinson, commissioner of Bright from the Start at the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, and Anne Bryan, senior policy advisory to North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue on early childhood issues.

Be sure to tune in!

MERIT now available to search for STARS-approved trainings

The new tool to search for State Training and Registry System (STARS)-approved trainings and trainers is now available for child care providers and other early learning professionals.

In April, DEL took the STARS database off-line to create a new, more robust tool. DEL is introducing the new tool, called the Managed Education Registry and Information Tool (MERIT), in phases.

Last month, approved trainers and training organizations were able to add and edit available early learning trainings. Beginning today, child care providers and other professionals can search for those trainings. To start, click “Search MERIT” in the upper tab.

Searching for trainings does not require a user name or password. In a future phase of MERIT, all early learning professionals will receive login information to enter information about their training history. At this time, only currently STARS-approved trainers or training organizations have user names. If you have questions or concerns, e-mail

STARS forms are available on the bottom of the MERIT home page or at Watch for more information about future phases of this new and exciting tool!

Reminder: Child care providers must report abuse and neglect

This morning DEL is sending out a phone message reminder to all licensed child care providers that they and their staff members are mandated reporters. Mandated reporters must report suspected child abuse or neglect. This obligation is an important part of keeping all children in Washington safe and healthy.

Our partner agency, the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), has collected valuable information about who is a mandatory reporter and resources to help them understand their role. Click here to check out the site.

To report, call 1-866-ENDHARM (1-866-363-4276), Washington State's toll-free hotline that will connect you directly to the appropriate local office. We at DEL appreciate the work you do.

DEL Director meets with NACCRRA Executive Director

We had the pleasure this week of hosting the leader of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies at the DEL state office in Lacey. NACCRRA is a national organization that works with more than 700 state and local child care resource and referral agencies in ensuring families have access to child care options in their community.

NACCRRA Executive Director Linda Smith met with DEL Director Bette Hyde and other members of the DEL team for a rich, wide-ranging discussion on early learning issues, including child care licensing, quality rating and improvement systems and military child care. We were happy to hear Linda’s thoughts on our own licensing rules, which NACCRRA has ranked among the top in the nation.

One of the most fascinating parts of the conversation was Linda’s thoughts on the importance of how we talk about early learning issues: Does the average person know what “quality” means? What does professional development for early learning professionals look like? Linda talked about how sharing just a few examples of what we mean can help paint the picture. For example:

“Child care quality child care facilities are safe and healthy places, such as those that have lots of age- and culture-appropriate books, parent involvement and time for children to play in and outside.”

“Professional development includes training in such areas as physical development of toddlers or how to use songs and music to support early literacy skills.”

Linda is in Washington for the NACCRRA Leadership and Management Institute in Seattle today. Our thanks to her for visiting DEL and sharing her knowledge, energy and ideas with us!

Seeds to Success: Stories from the field

Earlier this month, DEL and Thrive by Five Washington began the second year of field testing Seeds to Success, our state’s quality rating and improvement system. This voluntary system is designed to support licensed child care providers in improving the quality of child care they offer children and families. The quality standards being measured in Seeds have been modified based on what we learned in the first year of the field test. Five communities – Thrive demonstration communities East Yakima and White Center; and Spokane, Clark and Kitsap counties – are participating in the pilot.

Check out the good things that are happening at two Seeds sites.

White Center:
One family home child care provider has worked with her Seeds to Success coach to involve families more in her child care program. Early in the Seeds program she hosted her first “Family Night,” which included information about her programming, a presentation by the children and a family/child mural painting activity. The success of family night prompted the provider to look for other opportunities to engage families. She created a monthly parent packet of resources related to her lesson plans, including vocabulary words in English and Spanish, lyrics for songs and poems, child goals and activity ideas for families to use at home. She set a goal to hold parent conferences for the first time and looked to her coach for ideas and support. Together they brainstormed the relevant topics to include, talked about how to bring up challenging situations and worked on incorporating information from child developmental observations into the conferences. The coach and provider role-played the conference experience to increase the provider’s confidence level.

One program site is seeing the impact of Seeds to Success on all of their preschool classrooms. If one teacher receives training and coaching, she eagerly shares the information with her colleagues. And parents are noticing the enthusiasm! One parent commented to the child care director that interactions between staff and children had changed. What had happened? The director was able to share her center’s involvement with Seeds to Success and all that her staff had learned.

Visit to see the updated Seeds quality standards and to learn more about the second year of the field test.