Regarding the July 27 commentary, “We can no longer skimp on day care,” there is good news in our state.
Washington routinely scores among the top in the nation for our child-care licensing oversight. Anyone who has access to children in licensed care must pass a criminal background check. Since July 1, all of those people have a “portable” background check that is good for three years and stays with the employee if they move to a new child-care setting.
Thanks to a federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant, Washington also has a new quality rating and improvement system called Early Achievers that helps child-care providers improve the quality of their care with free professional development, coaching and financial incentives. Families can see on DEL’s website (www.del.wa.gov/check) if their child-care provider is “participating in quality improvement” or has “achieved a quality level of excellence.”
Child-care subsidy rates will increase by 2 percent on Sept. 1, and providers who are enrolled in Early Achievers will earn another 2 percent on top of that. We are working on setting up a subsidy structure so that child care providers who improve the quality of their care get higher rates. We also are working to better align center-based child care, family home child care, and publicly funded preschool to give families full-day, high-quality choices.
Washington has made great strides in building a sustainable, high-quality early learning system, with the support of our federal partners and state lawmakers, who have shown steadfast belief in the wisdom of investing in our youngest learners.
Director, Washington Department of Early Learning