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Evan Smith | schsmith@frontier.com
Published: Wednesday, December 19, 2012, 5:38 p.m.

Kagi retains leadership of House Early Learning and Human Services committee

Democratic 32nd District State Rep. Ruth Kagi has been reappointed to chair the House Early Learning and Human Services committee for the 2013 session.

Since first coming to the Legislature in 1999, Kagi's main focus has been on improving early learning opportunities and quality child-care options for children and families, strengthening the state's foster care system, and reducing child poverty.

She was recognized this year as a "Champion for Children" by the nonprofit Children's Alliance, and was presented with a Golden Crayon Award from the Early Learning Action Alliance.

"This committee's work is more important than ever, because of the toll the Great Recession has had on Washington's children and families," Kagi said Tuesday. "Child poverty has increased, sadly, and there is greater strain on our safety net after several rounds of state budget cuts. It's time to recognize the devastating effect the recession and budget cuts have had on our families, schools and communities."

While the Legislature made cuts to safety net programs in order to help close several budget shortfalls over the past few years, early learning programs have been mostly spared. As a result of the state's investments in early learning, it was awarded a $60 million federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant last year. The grant will help support higher quality child care programs across the state, and successful transitions from early learning programs to kindergarten.

"Washington is nationally recognized as an early learning leader, and we intend to remain at the forefront," Kagi said. "Research has shown that even minor investments in quality early learning efforts improve children's chances of success in school and in life. We can't afford to miss that window of opportunity."

In addition to her chairmanship, Kagi will also serve on the Appropriations and Environment committees.

Kagi's 32nd Legislative District includes south Edmonds, Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas of southwest Snohomish County, Lynnwood, part of Mountlake Terrace, Shoreline and part of northwest Seattle.

Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com
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