Social and Economic Policy
Promote policies and funding to expand the supply of affordable, quality early care and education programs that support the development of children, increase access to employment, and support parents as their children’s first teachers.
The state and national Leagues have long-standing policies encouraging the availability of early care and education programs (variously referred to as day care, childcare, early education, and early care and education). As part of its position on Education, the LWVWA calls for action to expand the definition of Basic Education to include birth to five years. Under Social Policy, it encourages 1) action to provide for the welfare of children in day care through minimum standards that include provision for safe, healthy, and clean environments; and 2) quality early care and education of children birth-5 to maximize the child’s future development.
The state budget passed during the 2023 Legislature Session provides significant funding to improve early care and education access and quality consistent with the provisions of the 2021 Fair Start for Kids Act (ESSS Bill 5237). This includes increased payment rates for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (the state pre-K program-ECEAP), child care providers serving children through the Working Connections Child Care Program (WCCC), and Home Visiting contractors. These rate increases will increase the financial viability of programs, make it easier for them to recruit and retain staff, and improve the availability of services for low-income families. Funding is also provided to assist ECEAP and child care programs in serving children with complex needs (including mental health consultation), expand the number of ECEAP slots including conversion of part-day to full-day slots, provide Tribal early learning grants, and make it easier for homeless families to retain child care subsidies.
The six early care and education bills we actively followed passed and have been referred to the Governor for signature. Highlights include making it possible for caregivers to receive unemployment benefits when the job loss is related to lack of care; prohibiting homeowner associations from unreasonably restricting child care; providing child care subsidies for enrollees in apprenticeship programs; broadening the availability of child care subsidies for immigrant families; and waiving background check fees for providers.
|House Bills||House||Senate||After Passage|
|Bill #||Bill Name (Brief Title)||League Position||Take Action||In Committee||On Floor Calendar||Passed||In Committee||On Floor Calendar||Passed||Passed Legislature||On Governor's Desk||Signed|
||Qualifications for unemployment insurance when an individual voluntarily leaves work||Support
|HB 1199||Licensed child care in common interest communities||Support
|HB 1525||Eligibility for Working Connections Child Care (Companion to SB 5423)||Support
|Implementation and expansion of transition to kindergarten program||Opposes
These weekly updates will provide you with a "deep dive" into the progress of each bill, along with more analysis of the potential impact of the bill if it should pass.
SB 5225 Increase access to the Working Connections Child Care Program (WCCC). 1) expands eligibility for WCCC assistance to include child care employees with incomes up to 85 percent of the state median income (SMI); 2) allows WCCC eligibility to include a parent or guardian participating in a specialty court or therapeutic court within the prior six months; and 3) prohibits the state from considering the immigration status of an applicant or consumer’s child when determining WCCC eligibility. The budget includes funding ($13.396 million) to implement the eligibility changes proposed by SB 5225. Bill was referred to the Governor for signature on April 18.
SB 5316 Background checks and licensing fees for programs administered by the Division of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF). DCYF must pay the background check fees charged by the Washington State Patrol and the FBI for all foster care and child care applicants and service providers. A provision that would have prohibited the charging of licensing fees was removed in a floor amendment. The budget includes $3.142 million to implement SB 5316. Bill referred to the Governor for signature on April 24.
HB 1106 Qualifications for unemployment insurance when an individual voluntarily leaves work. Beginning July 7, 2024, through July 8, 2029, a claimant for unemployment benefits has good cause and is not disqualified from benefits when the separation from employment was necessary because the person was unable to access care for a child or a vulnerable adult. Bill was referred to the Governor for signature on April 18.
HB 1199 Licensed childcare in common interest communities. Prohibits an association of unit owners in a common interest community, e.g., condominiums or plat communities, from prohibiting, unreasonably restricting or limiting the use of a unit as a licensed family home child care or center. Bill was referred to the Governor for signature on April 19.
HB 1525 Eligibility for Working Connections Child Care. Provides eligibility for WCCC for the first 12 months of enrollment in a state registered apprenticeship program. Requires that household income not exceed 75 percent SMI at the time of application. The budget includes $2.7 million to implement HB 1525. Bill was referred to the Governor for signature on April 20.
HB 1550 Assist eligible children in need of additional preparation to be successful in kindergarten. Establishes the Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Program with responsibilities for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and DCYF (including implementation of a data system). As of August 31, 2024, operation of Transitional Kindergarten programs is prohibited. Early entry to kindergarten is limited to children likely to be successful in kindergarten by the 2024-25 school year. The bill specifies that the TTK Program is not part of state basic education; charter schools will be permitted to operate TTK programs. Weaker than early learning advocates had hoped, there should be opportunities to shape the TTK Program in the rulemaking process. The budget includes $114.028 million in state and federal funds for TTK. Bill was referred to the Governor for signature on April 23.
If you have been following early care and education, thank you! Do reach out to your senator and representatives to let them know you appreciate the attention given to early care and education in the 2023 Legislative Session. Contact Karen Tvedt, firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.