Champion For Early Learning!

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I’m pleased to report that the Children’s Alliance named me a “Champion for Early Learning” this year and presented me with this nice box of stale Wheaties.

We made significant moves in early learning for low-income this year and I’m glad to be recognized for it.

  • We expanded the state’s program for low-income 3 and 5 year old kids. our goal is to have all kids below 110% of the federal poverty level have access to a high-quality program by 2018. This year we expanded the program about as quickly as we think we can and still maintain high quality. We also increased the rate we pay providers by about 10% as we were finding that providers were unable to run an effective program on what we were paying.
  • We expanded the number of slots in what we call “Working Connections Child Care” and increased the rate we pay, including a step that is only available to providers enrolled in our quality improvement program.
  • The Department of Early Learning won a federal “Race to the Top” grant and we were able to protect it from the Senate Republicans who wanted to use the money we’re using to meet the conditions of the grant for something else.

Our goal is to combine our programs and the federal head-start program into a single high-quality, all-day program. A handful of legislators are working with Gov. Inslee’s office to work out the complex finances of how we would combine all these streams of money into a single program that works better than the hodge-podge we have today.

About the Author

Ross
I am the Director of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State. I formerly represented the 48th Legislative District in the State House of Representatives, chairing the Appropriations committee and spent many a year at Microsoft.