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The Early Start Act: The smart thing to do

Yesterday, members of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee took an important step toward investing in high-quality early learning. The committee voted 8 to 5 to pass the Early Start Act out of committee.

The Early Start Act of 2014 was introduced by Representatives Ross Hunter and Ruth Kagi in the House (Bill HB 2377). The bill aims to increase the quality of childcare and preschool programs for low-income families in Washington through a combination of incentives and requirements.

Last session, our leaders in Olympia took steps toward increasing the stability and quality of childcare for our state’s poorest families. But far too many kids are in low-quality settings and too many state dollars are being spent on low-quality care.

Investing in high-quality early learning is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do if we are committed to closing our state’s opportunity and achievement gaps, improving graduation rates, and lowering incarceration rates.

The Early Start Act creates tiered reimbursements, enhanced coaching and mentoring, and improves financial stability for providers. It also requires current early learning providers to reach Level 3 in the state’s Early Achievers quality rating program within five years in order to receive state dollars. New providers will have 30 months to reach Level 3.

The goal is to get 80 percent of children who receive subsidized care into high-quality programs by 2020.

More information can be found on Ross Hunter’s website and The Seattle Times. LEV staff also developed an overview of Washington’s early learning system.

The Early Start Act has also been introduced in the Senate by Senators Steve Litzow and Andy Billig (SB 6127).

Posted in: Blog, Early Learning, Legislative session

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