Policy Resource

Washington's Birth-to-3 Plan Forms the Foundation for Future Decision-Making

Feb 9, 2016

In response to legislation that was passed in early 2010, three organizations—Washington’s Department of Early Learning, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and privately funded partner Thrive Washington—co-led an effort to develop a comprehensive birth-to-3 state plan.

Many early learning stakeholders were involved in the development of the plan, which outlines actionable policy recommendations to improve services and achieve measurable outcomes for infants, toddlers, and their families. Many of the recommendations build on strategies identified in Washington’s Early Learning Plan, a 10-year plan to ensure school readiness for all children (prenatal to third grade) in the state. In the fall of 2015, the state released a midpoint report celebrating the first five years of the Early Learning Plan. Like the Early Learning Plan, the Birth-to-3 Plan organizes recommendations around seven core areas: children’s health and developmental well-being; home visiting; parents as their children’s first and most important teacher; family, friend, and neighbor care; high-quality professionals and environment; child care subsidies that promote parent choice and access to affordable care; and infrastructure, partnerships, and mobilization.

The policy recommendations serve as the foundation for building statewide infrastructure, making funding decisions, developing public will, and scaling up efforts to achieve measurable success. One of the most progressive strategies for supporting the development of systems for infants and toddlers has been around Washington’s work in home visiting. The state created the Home Visiting Services Account (HVSA), a mechanism jointly administered by the Department of Children, Youth and Families (newly created in July 2018) and Thrive Washington that serves to bring together funding across state, federal and private sources to maximize services and ensure quality in programming. Since 2010, the HVSA has grown to serve over 2,000 families and about 95% of children served through the HVSA are infants and toddlers.

Washington has continued to focus on implementation of the Birth to Three Plan. In 2016 DEL brought together stakeholders in the form of a Birth to Three Subcommittee. A Subcommittee of the Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC), the group works to track and promote progress of implementing the Birth to Three Plan and provides advice on early learning systems issues that relate to infants and toddlers.

This description of Washington’s work is highlighted in ZERO TO THREE’s publication A Place to Get Started: Innovation in Infant and Toddler State Policies..

Reviewed July 2018.