|Passed by the House March 8, 2010|
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Passed by the Senate March 5, 2010
President of the Senate
I, Barbara Baker, Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives of the State of Washington, do hereby certify that the attached is SECOND SUBSTITUTE HOUSE BILL 2867 as passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on the dates hereon set forth.
Governor of the State of Washington
Secretary of State
State of Washington
|State of Washington||61st Legislature||2010 Regular Session|
READ FIRST TIME 02/09/10.
AN ACT Relating to early learning; amending RCW 43.215.005 and 43.215.020; and creating a new section.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1 RCW 43.215.005 and 2007 c 415 s 1 are each amended to read
(1) The legislature recognizes that:
(a) Parents are their children's first and most important teachers and decision makers;
(b) Research across disciplines now demonstrates that what happens in the earliest years makes a critical difference in children's readiness to succeed in school and life;
(c) Washington's competitiveness in the global economy requires a world-class education system that starts early and supports life-long learning;
(d) Washington state currently makes substantial investments in voluntary child care and early learning services and supports, but because services are fragmented across multiple state agencies, and early learning providers lack the supports and incentives needed to improve the quality of services they provide, many parents have difficulty accessing high quality early learning services;
(e) A more cohesive and integrated voluntary early learning system would result in greater efficiencies for the state, increased partnership between the state and the private sector, improved access to high quality early learning services, and better employment and early learning outcomes for families and all children.
(2) The legislature finds that:
(a) The early years of a child's life are critical to the child's healthy brain development and that the quality of caregiving during the early years can significantly impact the child's intellectual, social, and emotional development;
(b) A successful outcome for every child obtaining a K-12 education depends on children being prepared from birth for academic and social success in school. For children at risk of school failure, the achievement gap often emerges as early as eighteen months of age;
(c) There currently is a shortage of high quality services and supports for children ages birth to three and their parents and caregivers; and
(d) Increasing the availability of high quality services for children ages birth to three and their parents and caregivers will result in improved school and life outcomes.
(3) Therefore, the legislature intends to establish a robust birth-to-three continuum of services for parents and caregivers of young children in order to provide education and support regarding the importance of early childhood development.
(3))) (4) The purpose of this chapter is:
(a) To establish the department of early learning;
(b) To coordinate and consolidate state activities relating to child care and early learning programs;
(c) To safeguard and promote the health, safety, and well-being of children receiving child care and early learning assistance, which is paramount over the right of any person to provide care;
(d) To provide tools to promote the hiring of suitable providers of child care by:
(i) Providing parents with access to information regarding child care providers;
(ii) Providing parents with child care licensing action histories regarding child care providers; and
(iii) Requiring background checks of applicants for employment in any child care facility licensed or regulated under current law;
(e) To promote linkages and alignment between early learning programs and elementary schools and support the transition of children and families from prekindergarten environments to kindergarten;
(f) To promote the development of a sufficient number and variety of adequate child care and early learning facilities, both public and private; and
(g) To license agencies and to assure the users of such agencies, their parents, the community at large and the agencies themselves that adequate minimum standards are maintained by all child care and early learning facilities.
(4))) (5) This chapter does not expand the state's authority to
license or regulate activities or programs beyond those licensed or
regulated under existing law.
Sec. 2 RCW 43.215.020 and 2007 c 394 s 5 are each amended to read
(1) The department of early learning is created as an executive branch agency. The department is vested with all powers and duties transferred to it under this chapter and such other powers and duties as may be authorized by law.
(2) The primary duties of the department are to implement state early learning policy and to coordinate, consolidate, and integrate child care and early learning programs in order to administer programs and funding as efficiently as possible. The department's duties include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) To support both public and private sectors toward a comprehensive and collaborative system of early learning that serves parents, children, and providers and to encourage best practices in child care and early learning programs;
(b) To make early learning resources available to parents and caregivers;
(c) To carry out activities, including providing clear and easily accessible information about quality and improving the quality of early learning opportunities for young children, in cooperation with the nongovernmental private-public partnership;
(d) To administer child care and early learning programs;
(e) To standardize internal financial audits, oversight visits, performance benchmarks, and licensing criteria, so that programs can function in an integrated fashion;
(f) To support the implementation of the nongovernmental private-public partnership and cooperate with that partnership in pursuing its goals including providing data and support necessary for the successful work of the partnership;
(g) To work cooperatively and in coordination with the early learning council;
(h) To collaborate with the K-12 school system at the state and local levels to ensure appropriate connections and smooth transitions between early learning and K-12 programs; ((
(i) To develop a comprehensive birth-to-three plan to provide education and support through a continuum of options including, but not limited to, services such as: Home visiting; quality incentives for infant and toddler child care subsidies; quality improvements for family home and center-based child care programs serving infants and toddlers; professional development; early literacy programs; and informal supports for family, friend, and neighbor caregivers;
(j) Upon the development of an early learning information system, to make available to parents timely inspection and licensing action information through the internet and other means.
(3) The department's programs shall be designed in a way that respects and preserves the ability of parents and legal guardians to direct the education, development, and upbringing of their children, and that recognizes and honors cultural and linguistic diversity. The department shall include parents and legal guardians in the development of policies and program decisions affecting their children.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 3 The department of early learning, in
collaboration with the early learning nongovernmental private-public
partnership and the early learning advisory council, shall develop a
birth-to-three plan, including recommended appropriation levels, and
report to the appropriate committees of the legislature and the
governor by December 1, 2010. The plan and recommendations required
under this section shall be developed within existing resources.