Social and Economic Policy
Early Care and Education

Promote the availability of safe, culturally appropriate early care and education services that support the development of young children, economic vitality for families and businesses, and living wages and training for early care and education workers.


Issue Team Chair: Karen Tvedt, ktvedt@lwvwa.org
 DOWNLOAD the Early Care and Education Issue Paper
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Contact Karen Tvedt


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Updates

Legislation


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Overview of the 2024 Legislative Session

The biennial budget passed by the 2023 Legislature increased funding for early care and education services consistent with ongoing implementation of the 2021 Fair Start for Kids Act. This Act provides a framework for making home visitation services, high quality child care (including provider and teacher supports), and comprehensive preschool services more readily available to families and young children in Washington State.

The League also supported six early care and education bills that were enacted into law in 2023 including:
  • To make it possible for parents and other caregivers to receive unemployment benefits when a job loss related loss of care (HB 1106);
  • To prohibit homeowners’ associations from unduly restricting use of units for child care (HB 1199);
  • To provide child care assistance for enrollees in apprenticeship programs (HB 1525); to broaden access to child care assistance by immigrant families (SB 5225);
  • To waive background check fees for child care applicants (SB 5316);
  • And to create a new Transition to Kindergarten Program aimed at coordination between early learning programs and schools (HB 1550).
While expectations were modest for the 2024 supplemental budget session, as of the end of the second week of session, more than two dozen bills relating to early care and education have been introduced. These bills address a range of issues from expanding the use of paid sick leave to certain child care closures to expediting fingerprint based background checks for prospective child care employees to increased eligibility for early learning programs.


Updates
If there is a major update on a bill, action chairs may want to write up a report detailing changes or summarizing debate in committee.


2024 Early Care and Education Legislation

Priority Bills

Bills in green are supported. Bills in red are opposed by the League. Bills in black the League is watching.

SB 5774 Increasing the capacity to conduct timely fingerprint-based background checks for prospective child care employees and other programs. Requires the department to maintain the capacity to roll, print or scan fingerprints in its early learning and child welfare offices for purposes of State Patrol and FBI background checks.

SB 5793/HB 1991 Relating to paid sick leave. Expands paid sick leave to include health-related workplace closures and school and child care closures due to health-related, weather or public emergency reasons.

SB 5870 Expanding and streamlining eligibility for early learning programs including Working Connections Child Care (WCCC), the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), and Birth to Three ECEAP.

SB 5933/HB 1916 Concerning funding for the early support for infants and toddlers program. Child is counted as receiving early intervention services if services are provided within the month.

SB 5941/HB 2111 Clarifying requirements for subsidized child care. Clean-up of statute to reflect changes made in recent years.

SB 6018 Early learning coordinators at ESDs. Each Educational Service District (ESD) must designate an early learning coordinator to support increased collaboration, recruitment, enrollment, and service delivery across Washington’s pre-k through third grade continuum.

HB 1945 Streamlining and enhancing program access for persons eligible for food assistance. Those eligible for or receiving basic food benefits also meet the income eligibility requirements for WCCC and are categorically eligible for ECEAP.

HB 2101 Eliminating child care licensing fees. The Secretary, Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) may not charge fees to licensees for obtaining a child care license.

HB 2124 Supporting and expanding access to child care and early learning programs. Participation in ECEAP, Birth-to-Three ECEAP, Head Start or Early Head Start is an approved activity when determining eligibility for Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) benefits. Rates paid for WCCC must be adjusted every two years according to inflationary increase.

HB 2195 Strengthening the early learning facilities grant and loan program by revising criteria and providing resources to the early learning facilities development account.

Other Bills
Bills in green are supported. Bills in red are opposed by the League. Bills in black the League is watching.

SB 6038 Reducing costs associated with providing child care. Eliminates child care licensing fees and includes a tax performance statement to extend the B&O tax exemption to include income from the care and education of children up to age 12.

SB 6171 Relating to studying child care for criminal justice personnel. DCYF to conduct a feasibility study and cost estimates for providing child care for the children of peace officers and criminal justice personnel during shift work and abnormal work hours that precludes them from using community child care services.

HB 1451 Relating to expanding the child care workforce. OSPI to establish a child care worker pilot program. DCYF must contract for the development of a model program manual to assist youth who routinely care for younger relatives; provide recommendations to expand the substitute pool for providers; and contract to expand the child care workforce and establish new affordable high quality child care and early learning programs.

HB 1537 Relating to licensing requirements for child care centers and indoor early learning programs. Proposes increased group sizes for preschool and school-age classrooms and reduces square feet per child from 35 to 34.

HB 1697 Making the early achievers quality rating and improvement system voluntary.

HB 1739 Relating to instruction for child care providers. The department must create an instructional handbook for providers. Providers are exempt from obtaining an early childhood education certificate if they have read the handbook and submitted a signed attestation that they have read it (or if their center attests that the provider has read the handbook and implemented the instructional material). 

HB 2046 Establishing alternative requirements for child care providers in under-resourced areas. Defines child care deserts, and directs DCYF to annually publish list of rural counties that are child care deserts, allowing increased group sizes for preschool and school-age classrooms and reduced square feet per child. In child care deserts, DCYF must provide 24 hours’ notice prior to entering an agency’s facility for purposes of inspection.

HB 2092 Concerning school construction assistance program funding for preschool and before- and after-school programs. Changes formula to account for services to preschool-age students as well as students in before-and-after school care.

HB 2179 Local licensing and regulation of child care programs. Provides that counties with populations of less than 100,000 may adopt and maintain ordinances for the licensing and regulation of child care centers and family home providers.

HB 2243 Creating the children’s social equity land trust to deliver revenue for child care programs, with priority given to funding rural areas that lack sufficient child care (child care deserts). Requested by the Dept. of Natural Resources.

HB 2264 Excluding certain family home-based child care providers from the list of agencies subject to licensure and regulation by DCYF. Exempts from licensing providers who regularly provide child care services in the provider's home in family living quarters for not more than three children at any given time.

HB 2300 Relating to child care provider qualifications. Establishes work equivalency as an alternative to certification requirements for all child care positions and requires DCYF to implement a noncredit-bearing, community-based pathway for providers to meet professional education requirements associated with licensing.

HB 2322 Creating a tax preference child care requirement; intends to encourage employers to assist employees with child care costs.


How To Be Involved

  • If you are interested in a particular bill, use the links above to go to the webpage for that bill. These pages include staff summaries and reports including who testified PRO versus CON on the bill. There is also information about how to access videos of hearings that have been held. 
  • Read and take action through the LWVWA Legislative Action Newsletter, distributed each Sunday during the legislative session.
  • You may also express your opinion on legislation with the LWVWA issue chairs. We will take your perspectives under consideration as we determine our support for legislation and prepare testimony. Please direct questions or comments to Karen Tvedt, Early Care and Education Issue Chair.

The League of Women Voters of Washington is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.
The League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. LWVWA Education Fund contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. The League of Women Voters Education Fund does not endorse the contents of any web pages to which it links.

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