By League of Education Voters Policy Team

In the 2020 legislative session, League of Education Voters will prioritize policies to help lay the foundation of an equitable educational system that provides what students need, when and where they need it.

We believe students come first, and we are dedicated to designing an equitable education system that serves all students based on their strengths, supports their needs, and provides the resources they need to be successful.

We are dedicated to designing an equitable education system that serves all students based on their strengths, supports their needs, and provides the resources they need to be successful.

We are committed to working to close gaps experienced by historically and systemically underserved students — including students of color, students in poverty, students qualifying for special education services, students learning English, and students impacted by trauma.

We believe this will lead to all students experiencing greater success and reaching their full potential.


Preschool students at South Shore PreK-8 - League of Education Voters
Preschool students at South Shore PreK-8

90% of human brain growth happens from birth to age six, but 98% of our state’s educational investments happen after kids reach age five.

Increasing our state investments in the crucial ages from birth to age five supports improved educational outcomes throughout a child’s life. High-quality early childhood education has positive impacts on kindergarten readiness (1), third grade reading levels (2), performance on tests throughout elementary school and to the end of high school (3), high school graduation (4), and enrollment and persistence in postsecondary education (5). The benefits also encompass a wide array of positive societal outcomes, including less engagement with the criminal justice system, and increased earnings and family stability as an adult (6). Home visiting – an early childhood education strategy in which a nurse or other professional coordinates services to families in their home – decreases the likelihood of abuse or neglect (7) while improving family economic self-sufficiency (8).

Every dollar Washington invests – and has invested in the past – returns significant value to our state. Early childhood education programs in Washington state – like the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) – have a $4.33 return on investment for every $1 spent (9). Evidence-based home visiting can return benefits from $1.80 to $5.70 per dollar spent. Our previous state-level spending has ensured that we have two key infrastructure components already in place – a quality rating and coaching structure to ensure kids are in high-quality early care, and a research-proven, state-funded program for the highest need kids to get the supports they need to start school fully kindergarten ready. Now is the time to see these previous investments through to their full potential, and to do the work to ensure we maximize our K-12 investments.


Early childhood education programming is a vital investment for our children and the future of our state. League of Education Voters believes our state should make sure all kids can benefit from accessing high-quality early childhood education by:

  • Increasing our reimbursement rate for Working Connections Child Care and ECEAP to the federally required level in each region.
  • Investing more money in home visiting as the foundation of our 0-3 educational investment strategy – to help families when kids have the greatest amount of brain plasticity and growth.
  • Meeting our current ECEAP entitlement goal to make sure that the kids who need the most intervention are able to access our research-proven programming.


1. DeFeyter & Winsler, “The early developmental competencies and school readiness of low-income, immigrant children: Influences of generation, race/ethnicity, and national origins,” Early Childhood Research Quarterly (2009): 24: 411-31. Barnett & Lamy, “The effects of state pre-kindergarten programs on young children’s school readiness in five states,” The National Institute for Early Education Research (2006). Fantuzzo, Rouse, et al., “Early childhood experiences and kindergarten success: A population-based study of a large urban setting,” School Psychology Review, 34 (4): 571-88
2. Karoly, Kilburn & Cannon (2005). Broberg, Wessels, Lamb, & Hwang, “Effects of daycare on the development of cognitive abilities in 8-year olds: A longitudinal study,” Developmental Psychology, 33(1): 62-9.
3. Gilliam & Zigler, “A critical meta-analysis of all evaluations of state-funded preschool from 1977 to 1998: Implications for policy, service delivery and program evaluation,” Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 15(4): 441-73.
4. Barnett, “Long-term effects of early childhood programs on cognitive and school outcomes,” The Future of Children 5(3): 25-50.
5. Karoly, Kilburn, & Cannon, “Early childhood interventions: proven results, future promises,” RAND Corporation (2005). Marcon, “Moving up the grades: Relationship between preschool model and later school success,” Early Childhood Research and Practice, 4 (1): 1-24.
6. Masse & Barnett, “A benefit-cost analysis of the Abecedarian Program,” National Institute for Early Education Research (2003). McKey et al, “The Impact of Head Start on children, families, and communities: Final report of the Head Start evaluation, synthesis and utilization project,” 1985.
7. DuMont, Kirkland, Mitchell-Herzfeld, et al, “A Randomized Trial of Healthy Families New York (HFNY): Does Home Visiting Prevent Child Maltreatment?”; Olds, Kitzman, Hanks, et al., “Effects of Nurse-Home Visiting on Maternal and Child Functioning: Age Nin Follow-Up of a Randomized Trial” Pediatrics 114, 6 (2004): 1560-8.
8. Olds, Henderson, Tatelbaum, et al., “Improving the Life-Course Development of Socially Disadvantaged Mothers: A Randomized Trial of Nurse Home Visitation,” American Journal of Public Health, 78, 11 (1988) 1436-45. LeCroy and Krysik, “Randomized Trial of the Healthy Families Arizona Home Visiting Program,” Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 10 (2011): 1761-6.
9. Washington State Institute for Public Policy, Benefit-Cost Results, Pre-K to 12 Education.


2020 Legislative Priority Issue Brief: Early Childhood Education (PDF)

Register for our February 27 LEVinar on Making Early Learning More Affordable and Accessible in Washington state

Read our 2020 Legislative Priority Issue Brief: Early Childhood Education – ECEAP

Read our 2020 Legislative Priority Issue Brief: Early Childhood Education – Reimbursement Rates

Read our 2020 Legislative Priorities


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