Media Contact: Allie Wright, [email protected], (202) 794-1823
Seattle, Wash. (June 30, 2017) – After three special legislative sessions, Washington state lawmakers today passed a state budget, avoiding a government shutdown that would negatively impact the lives of the state’s youngest residents.
“I’m grateful to state lawmakers for working diligently to come to a budget agreement before the deadline and ensuring the government will not shut down,” said Mark Shriver, president of Save the Children Action Network (SCAN). “While this budget deal allows children to continue to learn and thrive in their early childhood education and care programs and makes several vital investments, we still have work to do make sure that all children have access to high-quality early learning programs.”
The budget will create 1,800 new slots for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), Washington’s high-quality preschool program for low-income families. Additionally, it increases base rates for Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) providers by approximately six percent, which will help providers continue to serve low-income families paying for care with WCCC subsidies. However, this increase for WCCC falls far short of the actual cost of quality child care.
The budget cuts millions of dollars from Early Achievers, Washington’s Quality Rating and Improvement System, a critical strategy for Washington to improve the quality of early learning.
Also today, the House of Representatives passed HB 1661, legislation that creates a new Department of Children, Youth and Families – consolidating services for children into one department and absorbing the functions of the existing Department of Early Learning and the Children’s Administration. It emphasizes child development and kindergarten-readiness, particularly in math.
“This legislation is an opportunity to better coordinate services for kids, especially the most vulnerable youth in Washington,” said Shriver. “I encourage the thoughtful implementation of this legislation and full funding of the new department so we can achieve better outcomes for kids in early math and across the board.”
Save the Children Action Network is the political voice for kids. We believe that every child deserves the best start in life. That’s why we’re building bipartisan will and voter support to make sure every child in the U.S. has access to high-quality early learning and that no mother or child around the globe dies from a preventable disease or illness. By investing in kids and holding leaders accountable, we are helping kids from birth to age five survive and thrive. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.