Washington Budget Includes Big Wins for Infants and Toddlers
In June 2015, Washington passed a two-year state budget that included a $6.18 million increase for home visiting.
In total, the budget included a $158 million increase for early learning, the largest new investment in early learning the state has ever adopted. This provides funding for the state to implement the Early Start Act, which passed the legislature with bipartisan support. The policies in Early Start are applicable to early care and education programs for children birth to age five.
The Early Start Act:
Increases access to high-quality early learning for children in low-income neighborhoods;
Promotes stability and continuity of care by establishing a 12-month authorization period for child care subsidies regardless of changes in family circumstances;
Expands the Early Achievers quality rating and improvement system to require participation by all licensed or certified child care facilities and early learning programs serving non-school-age children and receiving state funds;
Provides new training to early learning professionals, prioritizing providers in low-income communities;
Offers free coaching and supports to child care providers; and
Requires collection of longitudinal, child-level data about children attending subsidized child care and the early childhood education and assistance preschool programs.
The new state investments in Home Visiting continues Washingtons efforts to leverage multiple funding streams to serve families. For example, part of the new state investment will serve families enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, a partnership with the Department of Social and Health Services. This partnership has provided an opportunity for an additional 175 families to access home visiting services.
For the Early Start Act as passed by both houses of the state legislature: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2015-16/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/1491-S2.PL.pdf
For information about Washingtons Early Start Act implementation in 2015-16: http://www.del.wa.gov/government/EarlyStartAct/Default.aspx
Updated January 2016
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