Sen. Nick Harper spoke Thursday during United Way’s of Washington Advocacy Day. Harper, D-Everett, talked about the importance of early learning and described some of the bills currently making their way through the legislative process that will strengthen the state’s programs for its littlest learners.
“Research has shown again and again that the earlier kids begin their education, the better,” Harper said. “I think it’s critical that we continue to lead the way in this state and that we continue to create sound, evidence-based early learning programs that give all children a jump on their education.”
In December, Washington became one of nine states to win a federal grant of $60 million for its efforts in providing early learning programs for the state’s children. The grant will be awarded over the next four years to help the state improve and expand its early learning programs.
One of the strongest points of our grant application was the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) program. This program helps ensure that children in the state get a headstart on kindergarten. The 2011 Legislature passed Senate Bill 5427, which makes WaKIDS optional for state-funded full-day kindergarten classrooms in the 2011-2012 school year and mandatory starting in the 2012-2013 school year.
You can read about additional bills below which are aimed at improving the state’s early learning programs:
HB 2569 (Companion to SB 6532) – Implementing a voluntary Quality Rating and Improvement System for child care centers and early learning programs. Statewide implementation will provide the data to parents about the quality of care available and provide professional development supports to child care in order to improve quality.
SB 5715 – Requiring adoption of core competencies for early care and education professionals.