Raising a child is one of life’s most pivotal roles. Parents often turn to each other for support during the critical stages of their child’s development, but not all parents have access to the resources they need.

Alex and Mateo (2018)

For Alex, home visiting helped bridge the missing pieces of her Native heritage and supported her in reclaiming family traditions stripped from her through her great-grandfather’s U.S. Native boarding school experience.

Alex received home visiting services for the first time when she was pregnant with her oldest son, Mateo. But growing up, home visiting was already a part of her life as her mother was a tribal home visitor and a passionate advocate for early learning. Inspired by her mother, Alex felt she was destined to work in early learning, yet it wasn’t until motherhood that she intimately understood the precious rewards of home visiting support.

Mateo embraces his mom, Alex, and new baby brother Kulani (2019)

“Learning about the growth and development of my baby from my home visitor was fascinating! And that feeling like I’m succeeding as a first-time parent took me a long way.” Alex experienced a substantial shift in knowledge and confidence through her relationship with a home visitor; she was determined to support families in a similar way.

Bridging the Missing Pieces

The concept of home visiting is not new to Native families; Alex shared that home visiting is one of the most traditional things a Native family can do. Its critical process passes down knowledge and skills to preserve generational culture and heritage. In addition, home visiting creates a strong sense of community where the intrinsic needs of a child – during a foundational time in life – are addressed through trusted partnerships and shared goals.

Through home visiting, Alex established a special connection with local tribes as well as her own. Alex is an enrolled member of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska but lives and works in Washington state. Connecting with other members of the Haida Tribe and creating a sense of community was not easy so far away from Alaska. However, her home visitor was able to help connect her to local resources and inspire her to the place where she is now — celebrating her cultural heritage and reclaiming family traditions lost through her great-grandfather’s boarding school experience.

Native children were forcibly removed from their families and placed in government operated boarding schools between 1869 and the 1960s. The schools used “systematic militarized and identity-alteration methodologies,” to force white assimilation. They changed children’s names, cut long hair, and prohibited any use of Native languages and cultural practices — or else they faced brutal punishment. “All the hurt and the rage: Elders recall trauma of Native boarding schools.”

Alex’s great-grandfather had 17 siblings. He was displaced from his family when he was taken to a boarding school – never to be reunited. As a result, her family lost a great deal of their cultural heritage and traditions; Alex knows very little about her native language, songs, dances, or traditional medicines because her great-grandfather was deprived of his cultural identity.

Instead of a rich sense of cultural identity, the historical trauma of Alex’s great-grandfather’s experiences were passed down through her aunts, uncles and mother. For Alex, home visiting support provided a way to heal from this generational pain by offering resources to traditional activities and connection to a shared community. Home visiting helped Alex find a new sense of hope and resiliency. In realizing that she was experiencing the collective intergenerational trauma of losing language, culture and identity, Alex now has a path forward for her family and tools to support other families experiencing generational trauma.

Alex’s great-grandfather, George Nix, was Alaska’s first professional football player. (1926)

[email protected] is a great resource to help home visitors have difficult conversations, particularly when reflecting on times of trauma. When home visitors are equipped with tools to tackle difficult conversations, they can safely, respectfully and effectively discuss ACES (adverse childhood experiences), trauma, and other hard topics with parents by focusing on hope, respect and resilience.

Communities of Practice for Home Visitors

Communities of practice are another support Start Early Washington facilitates for home visiting professionals. Our community of practice, “Supporting Native Families,” aims to provide opportunities for professionals to understand tribal communities better and walk away with strategies and ideas to better serve Native families in Washington.

Washington state is home to 29 federally recognized tribes. Each tribal nation is uniquely different, including the size of the reservation, number of citizens and financial resources. Similarly, they each have unique cultural identifiers and shared experiences.

With this in mind, there’s a lot for home visitors to learn when engaging with Native families. Families feel more connected and appreciate when home visitors make the time to understand family culture and dynamics.

“I think all home visitors want to achieve that goal — to understand each member of the family. But when families know that someone wants to learn about their culture and identity, when someone takes an interest in what’s important to the family and genuinely supports the caregiver and child — that’s empowering.” – Alex

Visit our page to learn more about home visiting work in Washington and supports provided by Start Early Washington’s home visiting team.

(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)

2022 General Election

What do we know so far? While the news is predominantly focused on national races, we are closely following the results here in Washington state. With an entirely vote-by-mail system in our state, it can take days to know the outcomes, especially if a large number of voters submitted their ballots on election day.

The Washington state Secretary of State has a website where you can track the results of federal, state and local races. The website notes when updated numbers are due to be released, voter turnout and the number of ballots counted as well as those left to be counted. County officials certify their results on Nov. 29 and the Secretary of State will certify final results by Dec. 8.

What are we watching? As a reminder, the current breakdown of the Washington State Legislature sits at 28 Democrats and 21 Republicans in the State Senate and 57 Democrats and 41 Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Roughly 24 hours after the release of the first results, here are the initial takeaways:

Tight Races. As of 5 p.m. Nov. 9, the tightest contests can be found in the following races:

  • 10th Legislative District, position one (Island County and parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties): Democratic challenger Clyde Shavers leads Republican incumbent Greg Gilday 53%-47%
  • 26th Legislative District (parts of Kitsap and Pierce counties): State Senate Democratic Incumbent Emily Randall holds a 52%-48% lead over Republican challenger Jesse Young and, to fill Rep. Young’s open House seat, Democrat Adison Richards leads Republican Spencer Hutchins 51%-49%
  • 42nd Legislative District (parts of Whatcom County): all of the Democratic candidates hold slim leads over their Republican challengers. State Senate candidate Democrat Sharon Shewmake is leading the incumbent Republican Simon Sefnik 51%-49%. In the House of Representatives position one, incumbent Democrat Alicia Rule holds a 52%-48% lead over Republican challenger Tawsha Thompson. And, finally, in the open House of Representatives position two race, Democrat Jim Timmons holds a 51%-49% lead over Republican Dan Johnson.

Vulnerable Incumbents. Initial results indicate four Republican incumbents may be vulnerable. This includes:

  • Republican Rob Chase in the 4th District (parts of Spokane County) is trailing his Republican challenger Leonard Christian 51%-47%
  • As noted above, Republican Incumbent Greg Gilday is trailing his Democratic Challenger in the House of Representatives position one seat
  • In the 39th District (parts of King, Skagit and Snohomish counties), Republican Incumbent Robert Sutherland is trailing his Republican challenger Sam Low by a wide margin of 55%-42%
  • Republican Incumbent Simon Sefnik, who was appointed to fill the term of the late Senator Doug Ericksen in the 42nd District, is trailing Democratic challenger Sharon Shewmake by 51%-49%

As more votes come in, these results could change.

Whatcom County Early Learning Initiative. Initial results show that the Whatcom County’s Children Initiative is failing 51%-49%.

Stay tuned for another “Notes” focused on election results.

Capital Gains Tax Status Update

The Washington State Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of a capital gains tax Jan. 26, 2023. Oral arguments will be held in Tumwater because the Temple of Justice, where the Court usually meets, is closed for a two-year renovation.

On March 1, 2022, Douglas County Superior Court judge Brian Huber ruled the capital gains tax unconstitutional. Following this action, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson asked the state Supreme Court to accept the case on direct appeal, to which the Supreme Court agreed.

On Nov. 3, Attorney General Ferguson filed a motion with the Supreme Court asking the Court to allow the state’s Department of Revenue (DOR) to start collecting the tax before the Court makes its final ruling. DOR is currently pursuing rule-making related to tax collections. The Court will consider the Attorney General’s motion at a conference on Nov. 29.

As a reminder, the capital gains tax is intended to provide significant funding for early learning and the Fair Start for Kids Act, specifically. This Start Early Washington resource identifies investments in the Fair Start for Kids Act that were initially supported with short-term federal COVID-19 dollars with the intent for capital gains tax revenue to serve as the funding source once the short-term federal funds conclude.

Fair Start for Kids Act Resource

As we prepare to enter another two-year budget development process (one with a tightening fiscal picture), Start Early Washington put together a resource laying out which budgetary components of the Fair Start for Kids Act are laid out in statute and which are deemed “subject to appropriations.”

It is important to remember the funding of all policies is ultimately determined through the budget process, and while it is preferable to have specific funding levels set out in statute, the Legislature can change statute to fund at a different level – or not at all.

This resource breaks down which parts of the Fair Start for Kids Act are in statute, which are subject to appropriation and what this all means.

State Budget Preparations

Our last couple of “Notes From Olympia” have focused on summarizing the budget requests (known as decision packages) submitted by the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to the Governor’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) for inclusion in the Governor’s budget. Additional resources are available through DCYF’s Government Affairs webpage which has been updated to include summaries of some of the agency’s decision packages.

Staff at OFM are busy reviewing and building the Governor’s budget which is expected to be released around mid-December. The state’s next revenue forecast will be released Nov. 18. The status of the state’s revenue picture will impact what is (and is not) included in the Governor’s budget proposal. The last revenue forecast in September projected a sharp decline in available revenue for the upcoming 2023-25 biennium. Many eyes will be on the Nov. 18 revenue forecast to see if the projection continues to decrease.

On Nov. 4, the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council met to receive an economic review from the state’s economist, Dr. Steve Lerch. Not surprisingly, most of Dr. Lerch’s report focused on concerns about the potential for an upcoming recession and the impacts of high inflation on our state’s economy.

Legislative Committee Days

Each year in late November/early December, the Legislature holds “Committee Days,” where members of the existing committees meet and hold work sessions on issues likely to garner attention in the upcoming legislative session. The event is timed to occur before the “legislative session freeze” commences, wherein elected officials are barred from fundraising. This means that committee days also include a hearty number of evening fundraisers.

This year, the Senate and House of Representatives are scheduled to meet Dec. 1 and 2 in person, and the two days are jam-packed with legislative committee work sessions. I view this as a test to gauge how ill-prepared I am for a return to walking on marble, dressing professionally and being social for an extended period of time. (High likelihood I will fail this test.)

Of note for early learning, the House Children, Youth and Families Committee will hold a work session at 1 p.m. on Dec. 1 focusing exclusively on early learning recruitment issues. Also on Dec. 1, the Senate Ways and Means Committee will hold a work session at 3:30 p.m. that looks at the state’s revenue and economic picture as well as implementation of the state’s COVID-19 recovery plan including a segment on how child care providers utilized stabilization funds. Finally, the first will also include a work session for the House Appropriations Committee that includes a 2023 Session Budget Preview.

While Committee Days will see a return to in-person work, TVW will continue to stream all the committee meetings, so you can catch them live or by accessing the media archives at tvw.org. It is important to note that unlike committee hearings, work session presenters are by invite-only, so the public cannot testify during these committee day activities. However, when the legislative committees pivot to bill hearings come January, public testimony will be back, and work is underway to continue to incorporate the availability of virtual testimony.

Child Care Center Coming to Capitol Campus

This fall, the state’s Department of Enterprise Services announced it selected KinderCare Learning Centers to operate the second child care center in Olympia to serve state employees and their families. Located right across from the Capitol campus at Maple Park Avenue SW and Capitol Way South, the center hopes to open soon and will serve children from six weeks to five years old.

I saw the center recently in Olympia and it looks ready to welcome children!

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Our Capitol Ambassador Ollie eagerly awaits the return of people.
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)

As we get further into fall, we see an uptick in activity that will influence the 2023 legislative session. Of course, one of the biggest influencers will be the Nov. 8 General Election and the subsequent leadership and legislative committee assignment decisions. Be on the lookout for a detailed analysis of upcoming changes following the election. In the meantime, this edition features timely updates.

Legislative Work Sessions

As part of the gear-up for the 2023 legislative session, legislative committees held a number of work sessions in the last few weeks. An interesting aspect of the preelection meetings is they include the sitting lawmakers, some of whom may not be returning in 2023.

Senate Ways and Means Committee

On Sept. 27, the Senate Ways and Means held the first in-person committee meeting since March 2020. I think it would be fair to say both lawmakers and audience members were excited to be back together.

Among the agenda items was a presentation by State Auditor staff regarding the audit of the state’s receipt and usage of federal dollars. It is not a surprise to see this review given that the state received billions of federal dollars to address pandemic-related items.

Of note for early learning, the State Auditor representatives discussed their finding that $293.2 million of the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant funds were “unauditable” due to the Department of Children, Youth and Families’ accounting practices which limited the State Auditor’s ability to access the level of detail needed to determine if funds were spent appropriately.

Following the State Auditor staff’s presentation, DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter responded (starting at around 1:30), noting that DCYF’s current Information Technology system needs an update to provide the level of detail required for more detailed auditing. Importantly, Secretary Hunter emphasized that DCYF did not receive any significant findings related to eligibility determination.

Secretary Hunter committed to working with the State Auditor; his agency submitted a decision package to provide the Information Technology investment needed to support the requested level of accounting detail.

House Children, Youth and Families Committee

On Oct. 11, the House Children, Youth and Families Committee held a work session focused on:

Each of the presentations linked above contain excellent background and data on the various programs, and the meeting video is worth a watch. The work session highlighted not only general confusion over the varying goals and target populations for the programs, but also the challenge for families in securing needed supports and care. We can expect these conversations to continue into the legislative session.

Joint Committee on Employment Relations

You are probably wondering why an early learning related newsletter includes an update about a rather obscure legislative committee related to state employment. I actually have a good answer for that!

The Oct. 13 meeting of this Joint Committee received an update detailing the estimated costs and themes of the various collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). This bargaining not only involves state employees but also includes higher education employees, state and K-12 education health care expenses and non-state employee groups of family child care, adult family home and language access providers. These collective bargaining agreements will be included in the 2023-25 biennial budget and with the state’s revenue picture tightening (See Sept. 29 Notes From Olympia), the price tag of these agreements will impact the availability of funding for other investments.

In short, the estimated costs of all the CBAs totals $2.24 billion, with $1.401 billion of that amount from the state General Fund. Like nearly every other sector, state government is challenged to recruit and retain its broad and diverse workforce. These agreements aim to address staffing shortages – especially in high priority areas such as hospitals, ferries and state institutions – by providing overall wage increases, various retention bonuses and premium pay/lump-sum payments for employees working in institutions and other high-risk positions.

Family Child Care Providers. As noted above, the state also bargains with Family Child Care providers and that agreement totals $217 million from the state General Fund to support 3,612 providers. This agreement increases the cost-of-care rate to $2100/month for providers accepting subsidy; increases the Working Connections Child Care subsidy rate to the 85th percentile of the 2021 market rate survey; removes the cost of background checks; and increases the hourly rate for Family Friend and Neighbor providers from $3.00 to $3.85 as of July 1, 2023 and up to an hourly rate of $4.00 on July 1, 2024.

What Comes Next? Following the November Economic and Revenue Forecast, the Director of the Office of Financial Management will make a “financial feasibility determination” (meaning – can the state afford these agreements?). After that decision, the agreements will be included in the Governor’s proposed budget, and then the decision moves to the legislative arena. Note that collective bargaining agreements are given an “up or down” vote. This is one of the few areas where the Legislature does not negotiate nor get the opportunity to make changes.

Minimum Wage Increasing January 2023

On Sept. 30, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries announced the hourly minimum wage will increase to $15.74 as of January 2023. This represents an hourly increase of $1.25, or 8.66%.

The 2016 initiative approved by Washington state voters calls for the Department of Labor and Industries to adjust the hourly minimum wage based on changes to the Consumer Price Index. With this increase, Washington will have the highest state minimum wage in the country.

Updated Summary of Decision Packages

Start Early Washington recently updated its summary document detailing early learning related decision packages submitted to the Office of Financial Management for consideration in the Governor’s 2023-25 biennial budget. The update includes a $5.046 million Capital Budget request from the Department of Commerce to support facility costs for early learning programs at six school districts. Our Sept. 30 Notes From Olympia contains more detail on the decision package process.

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The Capitol campus on a gorgeous September morning.
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)

A Reminder …

Start Early Washington publishes “Notes From Olympia” periodically throughout the legislative interim. This edition focuses on recently released state agency “decision packages,” a state revenue update and workforce challenges.

State Agency Decision Packages

Each September, state agencies submit decision packages detailing budget requests to the Governor’s Office of Financial Management (OFM). These decision packages (or “DPs” as commonly known) are used to build the Governor’s proposed budget that will be released in mid-to-late December. See Start Early Washington’s August 25, Notes From Olympia for further discussion on the DP process.

OFM established a dedicated website where every agency DP can be downloaded. Unfortunately, this website is clunky at best, and downloading each DP can be extremely time consuming (my grumbling may have been heard statewide).

Thankfully, the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) has been transparent about their DPs. They have held multiple stakeholder feedback sessions as their DPs were under development as well as a webinar to answer questions once the DPs were uploaded on the OFM website.

A full summary of the DPs most relevant for early learning issues is on our website. A few items of note:

  • Looking across the variety of state agency DPs (broader than early learning), common themes emerge. These themes include advancing equity, providing direct funding to BIPOC-led organizations, targeted support to BIPOC and rural communities and increasing support to families (particularly in substance use disorder treatment services) to prevent out-of-home placement in the child welfare system.
  • State law requires the adoption of four-year balanced budgets, so many of the DPs not only include requested spending for the upcoming 2023-25 biennium, but also for the subsequent biennium for state Fiscal Years 2025-27.
  • You may find that not all the numbers add up perfectly in the finalized DPs, and that’s okay.
  • DCYF organized many of their DPs into themes (e.g., Prevention, Child Care Access and Affordability), so their number of DPs is smaller than most other state agencies, but the grouped DPs often contain a larger number of requests. DCYF’s early learning budget requests total more than $1 billion in new funding for the 2023-25 biennium.

As the DP list is so long this year, we’ve summarized an analysis on our resource page. If you have a deep interest in a particular item, I recommend reading the DP as they include cost modeling and further explanation and detail. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or would like help navigating OFM’s unwieldy website.

State Revenue Update

On Sept. 21, the Washington State Economic and Revenue Council met to receive an update on the latest revenue figures from the state’s economist Dr. Steve Lerch.

In the current 2021-23 biennium, revenue is projected to exceed the June forecast by $43 million, bringing the 2021-23 budget to $65.999 billion.

For the upcoming 2023-25 biennium that begins July 1, 2023, revenue is projected to decline from the June forecast by $495 million. Even with this projected decrease, the 2023-25 budget is projected to exceed the 2021-23 budget by $2.313 billion, with a projected biennial budget of $65.504 billion for 2023-25.

You may be asking, what is contributing to the slowing revenue? It comes down to three primary challenges:

  1. Decreasing personal income is leading to slower retail sales.
  2. Washington construction is slowing at a rate faster than projected.
  3. Interest rate hikes are slowing real estate activity, impacting real estate tax collections.

Finally, there was apparently a significant Board of Tax Appeal decision that reduced expected revenue in 2023-25 by $117 million.

A reporter asked the Governor’s Budget Director David Schumacher how the slowing revenue projections would impact the budget Governor Inslee will release in December. Director Schumacher responded by noting the Legislature left a healthy reserve that should help mitigate the blow of federal stimulus dollars concluding.

Per state budget documents, the Legislature left an ending fund balance of $789M for the 2021-23 biennium and $83M for the 2023-25 biennium. Additionally, of the $4.428 billion the state received and deposited into the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund (CSFRF) in the State Treasury, $3.151 billion was appropriated ($1.0 billion in the transportation budget; $400 million in the capital budget; and $1.75 billion in the operating budget). The remaining $1.277 billion was not appropriated and remains available for use.

The next revenue forecast will be released Nov. 18. These numbers will inform the Governor’s budget.

State Employee Workforce

The word of the year is workforce, particularly in the health and human services sectors. Looking through the agency DPs, you can see efforts to increase contracts and provide wage adjustments to help with staffing critical jobs ranging from child care to ECEAP to nursing home staff to behavioral health staff.

At the Sept. 15 DCYF Oversight Board meeting, DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter discussed his agency’s efforts to address recruitment and retention. (Secretary Hunter’s remarks begin around the 2:00 mark). He noted this is a challenge crossing all state agencies as they face competition from the private sector, with compensation being the largest barrier. Secretary Hunter acknowledged this workforce issue extends to DCYF’s contracted partners.

For DCYF, Secretary Hunter noted the emotionally and physically difficult work in all its programs, especially with the acuity of youth served in juvenile rehabilitation. A particular challenge for state agencies is in the Information Technology (IT) sphere, with the average age of state employee IT staff exceeding 50 years of age. IT is an area where the private sector is more lucrative.

Secretary Hunter also noted the importance of offering a career pathway for his agency’s employees and highlighted the magnitude of change the agency employees have undergone, starting with the creation of the new agency, navigating a pandemic and implementing multiple new laws and policies.

A few days after Secretary Hunter’s presentation, the Spokesman Review reported on a tentative deal between the state and its largest public employee union, the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE). The agreement includes a 4% wage increase in SFY 23 and a 3% increase in SFY 24, a $1000 bonus for receiving a COVID-19 booster shot and a $1000 retention bonus for current employees who stay employed on July 1, 2023.

While no cost estimate has been made public yet, WFSE said this is the largest compensation increase in the union’s history. But, first, the agreement needs to be approved by the state and the union, and then it will go to the Legislature, where an up or down vote would approve it. This is one of many Collective Bargaining Agreements the state is negotiating.

I raise this agreement because it will likely result in a significant price tag and, with slowing state revenues, competition for resources will be great. The policy question of workforce may be THE issue facing lawmakers when they gather in Olympia on January 9, 2023. Without people to perform mission critical work, the state will be challenged in serving Washingtonians in many areas.

What Will the 2023 Legislative Session Look Like?

While there has not been formal communication about the structure of the 2023 legislative session, we will likely see a return to in-person campus activity with continued ability to participate virtually.

The House of Representatives sent out communication last week stating that its December committee meetings will be in-person, with its hearing rooms equipped for hybrid participation and the Senate is holding work sessions this week from hearing rooms (with hybrid participation).

More to come …

Hello from my friend Ollie. He gets very happy when his human takes him for walks on the Capitol campus. He’s kindly offered to show us interesting spots when trivia resumes in January. (Photo Credit: Ollie’s mom, Pam Toal)

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Flowers lining the State Capitol campus on an early August morning
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)

A Reminder …

Start Early Washington publishes “Notes From Olympia” periodically throughout the legislative interim. During this time, we are replacing trivia with “deeper dives,” looking at innovations and issues that intersect with policy. In this edition, our deep dive focuses on the state agency decision package process that is currently underway.

Programmatic Updates

Home Visiting Expansion

Earlier this summer, the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) announced the expansion of home visiting access to approximately 300 new families with the award of 11 contracts totaling $2.1 million. This expansion came from state funding secured in the 2021 budget process.

Programs and home visiting models supported with these expansion dollars include:

  • Horn of Africa Services (40 families). ParentChild+ serving 40 immigrant families in south King and Pierce County.
  • InterCultural Children & Family Services (36 families). Parents as Teachers serving primarily Black or African American families in Pierce County.
  • Eastern Washington University (28 families). Early Head Start Home Based serving families in rural areas of Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille and Spokane counties.
  • Chinese Information and Service Center (24 families). ParentChild+ serving immigrant families in south King County.
  • Open Arms (24 families). Perinatal Services Outreach Doula serving families in King and Pierce counties.
  • El Centro de la Raza (18 families). Parents as Teachers serving Latinx families in south King County.
  • Lydia Place (16 families). Parents as Teachers serving largely families experiencing homelessness and Hispanic families from Whatcom County.
  • Child Care Action Council (15 families). Parents as Teachers serving Hispanic families in Mason County.
  • Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic (15 families). Parents as Teachers serving Native families in rural Yakima County.
  • Chelan-Douglas Health District (12 families). Nurse-Family Partnership serving primarily Hispanic families in rural Chelan and Douglas counties.
  • Suquamish Tribe (12 families). Parents as Teachers serving Native families, primarily the Suquamish Tribe.

DCYF is also in the process of finalizing an expansion opportunity designed specifically for federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations. A total of $480,000 will be available for programs to expand their services to approximately 50 new families.

The Home Visiting Advocacy Coalition is working on finalizing its 2023 state budget ask. The request will incorporate recommendations submitted to the Legislature and DCYF earlier this summer by the Home Visiting Advisory Committee. (See the June 2022 “Notes from Olympia” for a summary of the recommendations). Specifically, the request will focus on serving additional Black, Indigenous families or other families of color, families living in rural communities and supporting smaller community-based organizations that are more likely to be BIPOC-led.

Early Learning Facilities Fund

The Early Learning Facilities Program (or “ELF”) provides funding to Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) contractors and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) providers to expand, remodel, purchase or construct early learning facilities, classrooms and Family Child Care Homes statewide.

ELF offers four different funding opportunities:

  • Competitive grants to eligible organizations.
  • Competitive grants to K-12 school districts.
  • Direct appropriations from the Legislature.
  • A grant and loan program operated by Washington Community Reinvestment Association, Enterprise Community Partners and Craft3.

Operated in partnership by the Department of Commerce and DCYF, ELF provides funding in three categories: pre-design ($20,000 award limit); minor renovation and pre-development ($200,000 award limit); and new construction and major renovation ($1 million award limit). When making award decisions, Commerce and DCYF evaluate key project criteria such as the number of early learning spaces for children from families earning a low income, the project location relative to other early learning facilities and projects located in rural areas and low-income neighborhoods, among other factors.

The need for facilities funding is great. This year, ELF received 143 applications requesting a total of $72.9 million. In the end, $43.2 million was awarded to 69 early learning projects.

On Aug. 17-18, advocates in support of state funding for early learning facilities held site visits in Ellensburg, Zillah and Toppenish – providing a chance to see ELF’s investments in action.

Maria Carriedo – owner of Busy Bee’s Child Development Center in Toppenish – is joined by teacher Esme and an eager group of young learners.
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)

At Maria’s child care center, approximately 90% of the children are supported through Working Connections Child Care. Through ELF, Maria received funding to expand her facility to serve 48 additional children.

Engaging artwork from a student at Alejandra’s Day Care in Zillah, WA
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)

Alejandra Navarro is a Family Child Care provider with a level 4 Early Achievers rating, and she subcontracts with the Educational Service District 105 to provide ECEAP services. With support from ELF funding, Alejandra purchased a building in Toppenish and will open a center to serve 40 additional children.

Primary Election Results Are In – On to the General Election

On Aug. 19, Secretary of State Steve Hobbs certified the results of the Aug. 2 primary election. Washington state has a “top two” primary system whereby the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the Nov. 8 general election. In some legislative races, a Democrat will face a fellow Democrat and, in others, a Republican will face a Republican.

The results of the general election will determine every seat in the State House of Representatives, 24 of the 49 State Senate positions and the Secretary of State’s office because our current Secretary of State Hobbs was appointed to the position, replacing Kim Wyman who left to join the Biden administration to lead cybersecurity efforts.

An interesting note about the Secretary of State position – up until Hobbs’ appointment in February, Republicans had held the Secretary of State office for 56 years. However, with Hobbs advancing to the General Election with 40% of the vote, followed by Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson running as non-partisan with 13% of the vote, the streak of a Republican elected to the Washington state Secretary of State office will be broken.

Generally speaking, incumbent Democrats in the Senate and House performed better than some had projected with the expected “red wave” not materializing. Every state legislative incumbent – regardless of party – advanced to the November election. Check out Austin Jenkins’ piece summarizing the election results and visit the Secretary of State’s website for all the data on the general election match-ups.

Deep Dive – State Agency Decision Package Process

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Department of Children, Youth and Families)

While much of the Olympia chatter centers on the legislative session during the first 3-4 months of each year, as the visual above demonstrates, the state budget process is a year-round affair. Work is constantly underway to prepare for, make decisions about or implement budget components. Each stage in the budgeting process serves as a filter, as some proposals “stick” and others drop off as the realities of competing priorities and available revenue play out.

September represents a key stage in the “preparation” part of the budgeting timeline as state agencies submit “Decision Packages” to the Office of Financial Management (OFM – the Governor’s budget shop).

So, what is a decision package?
Decision packages signal state agency priorities for the upcoming budget cycle. Decision packages include an overall funding amount requested, a narrative justifying the ask as well as any cost modeling (otherwise known as “the back-up math”). These requests can be for programmatic improvements or specific internal agency needs such as information technology or office space. Essentially, these decision packages aim to make a case for why the proposed investment should be a priority.

OFM typically gives agencies a ballpark of the amount of funds they can request and may include other parameters they need to follow (similar to a homework assignment in school). These guardrails are important because, as expected, our state agencies are filled with staff passionate about the programs they work on, and without these limits, they would likely submit requests that far exceed available revenue. As it is now, the requests almost always exceed revenue.

Which comes next in the process?
After the decision packages are submitted, OFM spends the fall months reviewing and vetting these budget requests, weighing available revenue with the Governor’s priorities.

Somewhere around Dec. 15-20, the Governor will release their proposed budget. Two important notes: 1) most decision package requests will not be included in the Governor’s budget and 2) once the Governor’s budget is released, state agencies can only speak to items included in the Governor’s budget (meaning they cannot advocate for requests the Governor chose not to fund).

From there, it is the Legislature’s turn.

How can I find the decision packages?
Around mid-late September, every decision package submitted by all state agencies are uploaded to the Agency Budget Request page on the OFM website (I find the website and the downloading process a bit clunky and hope the system can be updated to be more seamless in the future.).

To identify specific decision packages, click on the desired budget session on the far left, for example, “2022 Supplemental” (I will be on the lookout for the “23-25 Regular” when the packages go live). Next, scroll down to the state agency (note that DCYF is not in alphabetical order as it is listed after the Department of Veterans Affairs). From there, click on “Early Learning” then “Search” and all the decision packages under early learning will be available for download.

We will include summaries of relevant early learning decision packages and links in our “Notes From Olympia” when they are available early fall.

What happens if a decision package is not included in the Governor’s budget?
While it is beneficial for a desired item to be included in the Governor’s budget, it is not the end of the road if it is not there. For one, the decision packages include policy arguments and budgetary data that can be used in advocacy efforts. And while decision packages are a major focus at this point in the process, attention will quickly shift to the next stage in the budgeting game. Always remember – nothing is final (or dead!) until the gavel goes down on Sine Die.

More Like This

Home visiting supports have meaningful impacts on the lives of children and families. Start Early Washington supports new and existing home visiting programs with coaching, consultation, training and professional learning to ensure the highest quality home visiting services for families.

Our staff includes professionals whose expertise is enriched by lived experiences and practical knowledge. As one of our proudest achievements, Start Early Washington staff hold over 165 years of combined home visiting experience!

This blog post introduces our senior home visiting manager, Cassie Morley, who draws from nearly three decades of home visiting experience to oversee a talented team that supports 63 home visiting programs statewide.

Cassie swinging with her 5-month-old granddaughter, Loveday (2021)

Spark of Inspiration

Cassie discovered her passion for home visiting as a college student preparing for a theater production of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” As part of the pre-production process, the director organized a workshop with the renowned childbirth educator and author Penny Simkin to help students perform their roles authentically. The director’s Saturday workshop might otherwise have been a footnote in Cassie’s career, but instead, it sparked inspiration and changed her life’s course. Cassie was captivated to learn about the multifaceted roles doulas and midwives play and how meaningful it felt to support the birthing process during such a transformative time in people’s lives.

Cassie pursued a career in midwifery as soon as she graduated college.

Partnering with Families

After completing her training as a midwife and practicing as a doula, Cassie furthered her passion for working with families as a home visitor with Parents as Teachers, and spending many years as a family resources coordinator, supporting the parents of infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays.

Cassie’s career continued to flourish as a Parents as Teacher home visitor working with tribal families across the South Sound region. Her love for partnering with tribal families deepened her insight into the essential roles that language, culture and community norms play in early childhood development. Connecting with families in this capacity was a life-changing experience and led to many years of collaboration and support for tribal nations in Washington state.

Firsthand Experiences

Cassie noted how the support from a home visitor, trusting relationships, and access to resources are instrumental for new parents in making those first few years more manageable. “People with new babies are busy trying to survive and reinvent themselves; it can be hard to advocate for yourself. The demands of being a parent are constantly changing, personal growth is hard work and having someone there to support you along the way is critical.” As a single parent raising a child diagnosed with epilepsy and intellectual disabilities, Cassie experienced firsthand how incredibly challenging and complex it can be to care for a young child.

Cassie holding her 2-month-old daughter, Ash (2001)

While Cassie’s firsthand experiences as a parent and home visitor fueled her passion for removing barriers for parents, years of evidence of the impact of home visiting solidified her belief in its role in positively influencing lifelong outcomes for children and their families.

“Change is a constant in home visiting work. Infants and toddlers grow and change rapidly; parents have to stretch and grow to support their ever-changing children. Home visitors are continually learning new skills, making adjustments and fine-tuning their support of families. In turn, home visiting supervisors are continuously striving to change and improve the quality of support provided to the families they serve.”

Parallel Process and Positive Change

Cassie’s accomplished career supporting families includes doula, home visitor, home visiting program supervisor, Parents as Teachers state lead — and her current role at the systems-level, where she influences meaningful outcomes for children and their families across Washington state.

Because of these experiences, she has a unique ability to understand the implications and effects of program and policy change, allowing her to advocate for children and families alongside partners at multiple levels.

“Start Early Washington’s home visiting team supports programs across the state. We are always refining our work and making incremental changes. Meaningful change is possible because of the authentic relationships we foster. Our work is grounded in emotional support, role clarity, honesty, trust and safety.” — Cassie Morley

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Visit our main page to learn more about Washington’s home visiting team.

As requested by the Legislature, Washington state’s Home Visiting Advisory Committee — consisting of home visiting providers, advocates, state agency partners and other allied professionals — recently outlined an ambitious path to strengthen the state’s home visiting system. Submitted to the Washington state Legislature and the Department of Children, Youth and Families, this plan makes essential recommendations to improve equity in the home visiting system, ensure a skilled and sustainable workforce and expand home visiting access to additional families.

Many of the recommendations identify strategies that are within the Department of Children, Youth and Families’ administrative power to implement while others will require additional investment from the Legislature.

Recommendation Highlights

A comprehensive overview of the recommendations is available on the Department of Children, Youth and Families website. In summary, the recommendations focus on the following areas of improvement:

Promote Equity: Washington must support a range of home visiting programs that meet the needs of diverse communities; ensure parent, community and provider voice is embedded in decision-making; and recruit and retain a workforce representative of families served.

Strengthen the Workforce: Home visitors have continued to provide essential supports to families, yet the workforce is under tremendous stress with higher than usual attrition in the past two years. The recommendations include investing in wages – including addressing racial and positional wage disparities; increasing access to professional development; and assessing home visitor caseloads and administrative burden.

Systems Improvements: To create a stable, sustainable and scalable home visiting system, the recommendations include completing a cost study to inform contracting to better reflect the true cost of the service; funding adjustments that promote equity; and streamlined data strategies.

Start Early Washington supports the recommendations submitted by the Home Visiting Advisory Committee. We are committed to working with our public and private sector partners to create comprehensive implementation plans with a strategic direction to build an equitable home visiting system that supports children and families in Washington state.


Excited to Learn More?

Check out our work in Washington state and stay connected; we’d love to grow our engagement with you.

Washington state capitol building in summer(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)

A Reminder …

Start Early Washington publishes “Notes From Olympia” periodically throughout the legislative interim. During this time, we are replacing trivia with “deeper dives,” looking at innovations and issues that intersect with policy. This edition’s deep dive focuses on recommendations the Home Visiting Advisory Committee recently submitted to the Legislature and the Department of Children, Youth and Families to improve equity in the system, ensure a skilled and sustainable workforce and serve additional families.

A Look at the State’s Revenue Picture

Two important updates impacting our state’s budget outlook were released in June – the first being the caseload forecast (projecting the state’s spending commitments for entitlement programs) and the other is the revenue forecast (projecting how much money the state has available to spend).

Caseload Forecast

The June 15 Caseload Forecast provided updated projections from the last forecast in February related to a number of state programs. These include projections for K-12 enrollment, state prisons and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program – all major cost drivers in the state budget. Forecast reports are used by the Governor to build his proposed budget as well as by legislative budget writers in their adoption of budget numbers.

Interestingly, K-12 enrollment has not yet bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. For specific early learning programs, the following changes are forecasted:

  • ECEAP enrollment is projected to increase by 2.1% from the February forecast, growing by 309 children, bringing the caseload to 15,199 in state Fiscal Year 2023 (state Fiscal Year 2023 runs from July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023). The forecast notes ECEAP enrollment has been impacted by COVID-19 and labor market developments. (It is fair to say COVID-19 was noted as a risk in every program forecast).
  • Working Connections Child Care participation is expected to decline by 4.2% from the February forecast (a decline of 1,105 families) bringing the caseload to 24,999 in state Fiscal Year 2023. The forecast accounts for the increased eligibility provided by the Fair Start for Kids Act. Risks to this forecast include COVID-19 and changing patterns in work and child care usage.
  • Special Education Preschool is projected to increase by 2.3% from the February forecast. The percentage of eligible children in this age group participating in Special Education preschool is projected to recover to exceed pre-pandemic levels from 2022-23 to 2024-25, but the actual caseload will not reach pre-pandemic levels due to declining birth rates.

Currently, the caseload forecast does not include a specific projection for the Transitional Kindergarten caseload. As a reminder, the 2022 supplemental budget included funding and a directive for the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to complete an evaluation on a number of items related to Transitional Kindergarten (TK) by Dec. 1, 2023, including the number of school districts offering TK and the number of children participating in the program (to the extent data is available).

Revenue Forecast

If the remarks from State Economist Dr. Steve Lerch at the June 22 meeting of the Economic Revenue and Forecast Council were put into a “word cloud generator,” the words “caution” and “slowing” would likely come out the largest as they were the most frequently cited.

In short, while the state’s revenue continues to grow beyond previous projections, expected growth is accompanied by a number of asterisks. Washington state continues to experience stronger than projected revenue collections, but there is concern about where our economy is headed. The largest concerns are around inflation, rising gas prices, a drop in retail sales, a potential slowdown in residential construction and the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict. The potential for a recession in our state is a possibility.

In terms of the official revenue forecast, revenues for the 2021-23 biennium (our current biennium) are up $1.457 billion over previous projections, and revenues for the 2023-25 biennium are up $632 million over previous projections. The variance between the two biennia demonstrates the expected slower, more moderate growth for our state’s economy.

Dr. Lerch also produces “alternative forecasts” including optimistic and pessimistic projections. The odds of the pessimistic forecasts for 2021-23 and 2023-25 outweigh the optimistic ones, and notably, the pessimistic forecast for 2023-25 projects a potential $6.2 billion drop in revenue.

Back to the proverbial word cloud – caution and slowing.

Primary Election Coming Soon

The state’s Aug. 2 primary election is quickly approaching, with ballots in the mail by July 15. Washington state has a top two primary system, which means the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the Nov. 8 general election.

Candidate filing week occurred from May 16-20 with hundreds of aspiring elected officials throwing their hats into the ring for offices ranging from Secretary of State to every seat in the House of Representatives as well as 24 of the 49 State Senate positions. The Secretary of State office is up for election in this “off year” because Secretary of State Steve Hobbs was appointed to replace Kim Wyman, who left her elected position post midterm to lead cybersecurity efforts for President Joe Biden.

Even before candidate filing week, we knew the makeup of the 2023 Washington state Legislature would be significantly different with more than 20 sitting lawmakers announcing they did not plan to run again for their current position. Many of these legislators are running for an open State Senate seat or the U.S. House of Representatives, but a significant number are retiring from elected service (at least for the 2022 election cycle). These retirements include a number of veterans such as the lead Capital Budget writer in the Senate David Frockt; House Majority Leader (and key budget negotiator) Pat Sullivan; and the long-time chair of the House Health Care Committee, Eileen Cody.

In addition to the retirement of veteran lawmakers, we saw an unusually high number of newer legislators, largely Members of Color, opt out of running for state legislative office in 2022. Newer lawmakers cited part-time employment reimbursement for what is really a full-time job, lack of support as well as frustration with the institution as impacting their decision to not return in 2023.

With some very crowded primary races, we will have a better picture of the November general election competitions after Aug. 2.

Ballot Initiatives

In the upcoming November general election, voters will also be asked to consider various initiatives. Initiative sponsors have until 5 p.m. on July 8 to submit signatures to the Secretary of State from at least 324,516 registered voters supporting the proposed initiative. The signature gathering process is time intensive, complex and costly.

One initiative that will not appear on voters’ ballots is the proposal to repeal the state’s recently enacted Capital Gains tax that was passed to support components of the Fair Start for Kids Act and other education related items. As reported in the June 10, 2022 Washington Wire, backers of the initiative decided not to pursue a ballot initiative, instead opting to place their bets on the legal challenge that is headed to the Washington State Supreme Court. The Wire piece cites the high costs of signature gathering as a reason for the decision.

Deep Dive: Home Visiting System Recommendations

The 2021 adopted state budget directed the Home Visiting Advisory Committee established in RCW 43.216.130 to submit recommendations to the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and the Legislature by June 1, 2022, containing strategies for improving equity in the home visiting system, ensuring a skilled and sustainable workforce and serving additional families.

The Home Visiting Advisory Committee (HVAC) includes home visiting experts, government and health department representatives, tribal community liaisons, service providers and research and evaluation experts. Its current membership is listed on Page 27 of the HVAC recommendations. (I represent the Home Visiting Advocacy Coalition on this committee).

The HVAC worked over the past year to develop recommendations that focus on three areas: 1) Workforce Development; 2) True Cost of Services; and 3) Data Enhancement. The recommendations build on work done to date, center community voices and prioritize strategies to better support under-resourced rural communities and organizations led by Black, Indigenous and People of Color. The HVAC is committed to a home visiting system that includes a range of home visiting models, programs and providers to ensure home visiting meets the needs of Washington state’s diverse communities and populations.

Implementing many of these recommendations is within DCYF’s purview; however, some will involve additional investment by the Legislature. While it will take time to implement the full array of recommendations, in its submission letter, the HVAC urged the Legislature and DCYF to take immediate action to address specific challenges facing the home visiting workforce, particularly related to compensation and the recruitment and retention of a workforce more representative of the children and families served.

Background on Home Visiting in Washington State

The recommendation document includes helpful background on the evolution of home visiting in our state, including the following “fast facts:”

  • The Home Visiting Services Account (HVSA) was created in statute in 2010, requiring all federal, state and private dollars the state receives for home visiting be deposited into this dedicated account.
  • Today, 44 local implementing agencies (also often referred to as “programs”) serve about 2,800 families statewide with funding through the HVSA.
  • An additional 6,000 families are served statewide with funding outside of the HVSA. The largest non-HVSA funding sources are Best Starts for Kids in King County and Early Head Start Home Based option.
  • Primary HVSA funding includes federal Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV); the State-General Fund; Fair Start for Kids Act funding; a portion of I-502 cannabis dollars; and funding from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to serve families participating in that program.
  • Washington has adopted a “portfolio” approach with the HVSA funding supporting nine different home visiting models to meet the varying needs of families. Additional home visiting models are funded by non-HVSA sources.

Summary of HVAC Recommendations

The recommendations contain a key detailing estimated budgetary impacts and a timeline for each recommendation (immediate, short-, medium- and long-term). The accompanying document includes further detail on the rationale for the specific recommendation, what authorizing authority is needed to implement, as well as further detail on budgetary impacts and timing. Most of the recommendations are within DCYF’s authority to implement, and many will need additional funding from the Legislature. The HVAC expressly stated their interest that implementation of several of the recommendations go beyond just HVSA-funded home visiting slots and support the larger home visiting system.

Overarching Recommendation: Community-Supported Portfolio Approach

  • This overarching recommendation encourages DCYF to continue supporting a portfolio of models to meet community needs. (Again, a portfolio approach supports multiple home visiting models to meet the varying needs of families and communities).
  • Specifically, the recommendation includes the development of a framework for the selection of models that prioritizes investing in under-resourced rural communities and organizations led by Black, Indigenous and People of Color.
  • DCYF should ensure selection of models and programs/decisions/design include deep community engagement that centers community, parent and provider voice.

Workforce Development Recommendations

Like other health and human service sectors, the home visiting workforce is under stress with higher than usual attrition in the past two years. Top concerns include:

  • Inability to recruit and retain staff due to low compensation.
  • Insufficient access to ongoing training and comprehensive professional development.
  • Balancing working directly with families and the lack of time to access professional development opportunities.

A study cited in the recommendations notes that 49% of the home visiting workforce in Washington earns less than $20/hour and the pay disparity is greater for home visitors identifying as Black, Indigenous or Person of Color.

Recommended strategies include:

  • Invest in home visiting workforce wages to specifically address racial and positional wage disparities.
  • Build in time for home visitors to access professional development that addresses the full needs of families (this could involve adjusting caseloads to account for time to engage in professional development opportunities).
  • Develop and implement strategies to recruit and retain a workforce more representative of families served.
  • Focus on workforce well-being with a focus on trauma-informed and healing-centered practices.

True Cost of Service Recommendations

Unlike many early learning programs, home visiting is not funded with a set rate structure. For example, newly contracted and recently expanded contracted local implementing agencies are often funded at higher levels compared to established local implementing agencies that are locked into years of static funding.

Recommended strategies include:

  • Complete the cost study that is underway within 12 months to inform the development of a customizable, community-driven cost model. It will be important to engage the Home Visiting Advisory Committee as well as HVSA-funded and non-HVSA funded programs in the cost study design and implementation.
  • Provide funding adjustments to local implementing agencies to bring equity and sustainability.

Data Enhancement Recommendation

Data is an area complicated by various funding streams and model-specific requirements. Many local implementing agencies cite the time intensive nature of the current data collection requirements as burdensome and have expressed concern that some data points are duplicative, or even unnecessary. Finally, there is interest in more transparency and disaggregation in the data collected.

Specific strategies include:

  • Alignment of data requirements, with particular attention to reducing duplicative or unnecessary requirements.
  • Increase capacity to manage and use data.
  • Develop a data infrastructure plan.

What’s Next?

Development of these recommendations was a collaborative effort between members of the HVAC as well as staff from DCYF and Department of Health (which manages the data function). A point of personal privilege – I would like to give a special shoutout to the DCYF and DOH teams and the HVAC members who stepped up to lead the recommendation development. A tremendous amount of work went into their development and identification of critically needed action steps.

So where do we go from here? With DCYF’s focus on prevention as a key component of its agency charge (amplified by the recent passage of landmark child welfare legislation), we expect DCYF to submit a prevention-oriented decision package this fall that includes home visiting for consideration in the Governor’s budget. We hope to see the more immediate recommendations that require state investment reflected in that decision package.

Home visiting advocates are digesting these recommendations and beginning the process of developing their 2023 legislative asks. What is clear is the urgent need to address the home visiting workforce and ensure the system is strengthened to better include the voices of communities, parents and providers alike so the system can expand to serve more families.

If you are interested in learning more about home visiting advocacy efforts, drop me an email; we would love to grow engagement with this important work.

Looking for more? Here’s a home visiting advocacy overview document sharing home visiting advocacy coalition membership, benefits of home visiting and the current state of services in Washington.

More Like This

“My personal experience with ParentChild+ will last a lifetime!” Marcella shares her memories as one of many families who benefited from working with an early learning specialist through the ParentChild+ program.

Marcella and her daughter Taylor-Corrine participated in the ParentChild+ (PC+) program more than 16 years ago. Marcella admired the program’s ability to support the whole family in shaping a bright path for her daughter’s future. As a result, she was inspired to become an early learning specialist for PC+, supporting other families to build strong foundations and thriving futures. Currently, she is the PC+ program manager at Start Early Washington, where she supports 16 PC+ programs with technical assistance, professional development, coaching and consultation.

How Positive Reinforcement Builds Confidence

Positive reinforcement amplifies what is already working well and PC+ early learning specialists do that in numerous ways. They remind families that they are already doing a fantastic job with their child. Conversations are always positive, confidence building and reassuring to families that they know their child best. Marcella noted this as an element she appreciated most as a participant. “I knew that someone wasn’t coming into my home to judge me or my parenting style.”

As a new mother, Marcella learned to use high quality parent-child interactions in everyday moments that are often overlooked as learning opportunities, such as parent self-talk and narrating routine activities. For example, Marcella experienced how easy this could be while talking aloud in the grocery isles about ingredients on her shopping list to her daughter Taylor-Corrine.

She quickly realized the value of her simple teachable moments when a stranger at the grocery store commented, “I love how you interact with your daughter.” That acknowledgment further reinforced that she was doing a fantastic job as a parent. “It elevated my confidence to a new level.” This positive feedback loop continued throughout the program and Taylor-Corrine’s life.

Shared Language and Culture Fosters Meaningful Relationships

As a unique component of the PC+ program, early learning specialists are matched with families who share their culture and language. A shared culture often plays an intricate role in fostering meaningful relationships. Notably, early learning specialists are hired from within the communities where they work and 25 percent of early learning specials are former parents who participated in the program.

“An authentic relationship and cultural match with our specialist was really important to our family when we participated,” Marcella noted fostering a trusting, authentic relationship with families is vital for successful engagement. “Families are more comfortable discussing difficult topics and asking for support,” she added.

Families develop a close bond with their early learning specialists over the course of 2 years. During that time, they receive 96 home visits and acquire several high quality books and educational materials selected specifically for their child’s age group, ranging from 2 months to 5 years of age. In addition, they receive various guide sheets to help facilitate learning through play.

Strong Foundations Lead to Future Success

The PC+ program aims to improve parent-child engagement and connect families with culturally appropriate information and materials to support school readiness, early literacy and lifelong success.

Access to culturally appropriate books and toys provided by the program opened an entirely new world for Marcella and her family. Books such as “Please, Baby, Please,” by Spike Lee and his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, allowed Taylor-Corrine to be surrounded by characters who looked and felt like she did. “It was the first book Taylor-Corrine saw herself in,” Marcella explained.

Marcella noted that key representation through her child’s learning helped Taylor-Corrine feel inspired and confident to try new things. “It was life-changing for her, in so many ways, PC+ helped us provide the tools our daughter needed to be successful throughout life.”

Marcella’s testimony of her family’s experience offered a few tangible examples of strong foundations leading to future success. Marcella leveraged the many tools provided by the program to make learning fun and effective for her daughter. As a result, by the time Taylor-Corrine entered kindergarten, she loved learning and Marcella was confident in communicating Taylor-Corrine’s academic needs with her teachers.


I know the approach works and changes lives because it did for me.

— Marcella Taylor
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Today, Taylor-Corrine is thriving as a sophomore at the University of Southern California studying African American Studies, Philosophy, Politics and Law. She plans to practice law as a civil rights attorney someday.

Picture of Taylor-Corrine, 2022 Taylor-Corrine

Taylor-Corrine continues to inspire her mother every day: “I am so proud of the woman she has become — I look at her and say, I want to be her when I grow up! She is independent and comfortable owning her space as a Black woman; she is confident and never questions if she belongs. Her success moves me forward to do better every day!”

Although the credit goes to Taylor-Corrine and her family, it is evident from speaking with Marcella that strong foundations were likely set in action through teachable moments discovered and supported through their participation in the PC+ program over 16 years ago.

Marcella and Taylor-Corrine explored Alki Beach after receiving an ocean-themed puzzle from their early learning specialist.

A Reminder…

Start Early Washington publishes Notes From Olympia periodically throughout the legislative interim. During this time, we are replacing trivia with “deeper dives,” looking at innovations and issues that intersect with policy. In this edition, our deep dive highlights equity efforts in home visiting. But don’t worry – trivia will be back.

Governor’s Action on Budgets and Bills

On March 31, Governor Jay Inslee completed action on the budget and policy bills passed by the Legislature during the 2022 session. Start Early Washington’s bill tracker has been updated to reflect the bills signed into law. You can find the enacted bills at the top of our resource page.

In one of his final bill actions, Governor Inslee issued a partial veto of the supplemental operating budget, ESSB 5693. Among the Governor’s vetoes was the rejection of the Legislature’s directive that the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction establish rules for Transitional Kindergarten and that Transitional Kindergarten funding remain at the FY 2022 funding level.

In his veto message, the Governor explained that he could not support this budget proviso because it “…would limit school services for our young learners during and after the pandemic.” He went on to request that the Office of Public Instruction, “… upon the conclusion of a Washington State Institute for Public Policy study, work with agencies and stakeholders … to further define how school districts may grant exceptions to the uniform entry qualifications [for kindergarten] based on the ability, of the need, or both, of an individual student….”

A budget summary containing a complete list of investments is on Start Early Washington’s resource page.

New Faces Heading to Olympia in 2023

When the 2023 legislative session commences Jan. 9, 2023, we will see a number of new faces in the Senate and House of Representative Chambers. As of the most recent count, upward of two dozen current lawmakers have announced they do not plan to run to retain their current seats. These lawmakers fall into three categories – those retiring, those running for another elected office and newer legislators (largely members of color) who cite the long hours, inadequate compensation and the culture of the institution as reasons for not running again.

KUOW/NPR published an interview with Olympia correspondents Austin Jenkins and Shauna Sowersby to get their take on what these changes could mean. Jenkins and Sowersby highlighted the loss of institutional memory with retirement of longtime legislators as well as the opportunity their departures bring to diversify the Legislature and open up more leadership positions. In addition, the Seattle Times ran a column that focuses on how the structure of the legislative process disadvantages legislators of color.

Some of these lawmakers could change their minds and decide to run again. Candidate filing week is May 16-20, and we will have a better idea of how the races are shaping up after filing week.

Early Learning Facility Funding Announcement

On April 13, the Department of Commerce – in partnership with the Department of Children, Youth and Families – announced $43.2 million in grants to 69 early learning facilities across 22 counties to increase the number of children served in ECEAP and Working Connections Child Care. The Department of Commerce received 143 applications requesting $72.9 million in funding.

A total of $80,000 was awarded to four programs for pre-design (maximum award amount of $20,000); a total of $1.68 million to 11 programs for minor renovations and pre-development (maximum award level of $200,000); and a total of $41.52 million was awarded to 54 programs for new construction/major renovations (maximum award amount of $1 million).

Funding for these grants came from the state budget adopted in 2021. The budget recently signed by Governor Inslee contains an additional $23.137 million in competitive grants and $18.5 million in one-time federal funding for minor renovations. The Department of Commerce will start the distribution of this new funding shortly.

Deep Dive: Equity in Home Visiting and ParentChild+

Parent clapping as child learns to walk

Home visiting and supporting strong families in Washington

Home visiting is a voluntary, proven way to support and strengthen families in the first years of life. Trained home visitors and parents develop a trusting relationship and work together over several years to address prenatal and infant care, child development and parenting skills. It is a multi-generational approach that has the power to positively change the trajectory of an entire family.

Research shows that home visiting programs increase children’s literacy and high school graduation rates, as well as how much parents read to their children. In addition, home visiting programs increase positive birth outcomes for children, improve the likelihood that families have a primary care physician and decrease rates of child abuse and neglect.

Washington state offers nine different home visiting models, each with different outcomes and approaches. Roughly 9,000 families in Washington state participate in home visiting services funded by federal, state, local and private dollars.

Start Early Washington’s home visiting team works in concert with the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and other public and private funders in the areas of home visiting, family engagement, program implementation and community service coordination. Grounded in a strengths-based approach, our team (many of whom were home visiting program participants AND home visitors themselves) supports home visiting programs statewide with coaching, consultation, training and general professional development to ensure the highest quality of services to families.

What is ParentChild+?

ParentChild+ is one of the home visiting models supported by Start Early Washington. ParentChild+ has been operating in Washington for 16 years, reaching over 1,400 families and 31 family child care (FCC) providers annually through 17 program sites in King, Yakima and Pierce counties. Supported with funding from the United Way of King County, Best Starts for Kids, the City of Seattle, the Stolte Family Foundation and DCYF, ParentChild+ focuses on reaching families living in under resourced communities with culturally relevant, community-based early learning experiences.

ParentChild+ is an evidence-based school readiness model, working directly with parents as well as Family Child Care and Family Friend and Neighbor (FFN) providers, which preempts the opportunity gap by providing young children and their parents with culturally relevant learning tools and skills. The program reaches families where they are, with two different models:

  • Core Model: 92 twice-weekly 30-minute home visits to support healthy development and educational success. Local partner sites prioritize hiring community-based early learning specialists who share a linguistic and cultural background with families. Early learning specialists provide families with high quality learning tools to stimulate parent-child interaction, develop language, early literacy, social and emotional skills, connect families to community resources and build school readiness. It’s very common that participants go on to become early learning specialists themselves.
  • Family Child Care: The ParentChild+ FCC model is a 24 week program providing twice-weekly visits to participating FCC and FFN providers. It is an innovative professional development and enrichment approach because it takes place in providers’ homes during their workday. Providers can practice new skills with the children in their care in real time, under the mentorship of an early learning specialist.

ParentChild+ and Race Equity

Since its founding 57 years ago, ParentChild+ has aimed to equalize access to quality early childhood education and support to ensure school readiness. As part of its ongoing commitment to advance racial equity in ParentChild+, the following are some values inherent in its approach:

  • Carefully choose literature and materials for home visits that portray multiple cultures and match family values. Home visiting professionals hold great power in selecting materials that allow families to celebrate who they are, including cultural norms, skin color, hair texture and so much more.
  • Biases shape our worldview. Identify, unpack and address internal and external biases to ensure the highest-quality and most inclusive services to families.
  • Support families in speaking their home language. Speaking to children in their home language is a powerful factor in building and retaining secure parent-child attachments. Embedded within this is the value of hiring staff who reflect the families served.

Developing a pipeline of FCC providers through ParentChild+ engagement

Recently, Start Early Washington received a grant from the Department of Commerce to facilitate a partnership with four other organizations to engage in a community planning process to explore the best ways to create a pipeline of potential FCC providers using ParentChild+’s Core Model and FCC Models as the basis for engagement, outreach, training and support.

As a community-based model focused on working with families and FCC providers from diverse communities and matching them with early learning specialists who share their cultural and linguistic heritage, ParentChild+ is uniquely suited to support the development of new, high quality providers in historically underserved communities.

Partners in this project include Atlantic Street Center (ASC), a Seattle-based ParentChild+ provider focused on reaching African American families; Horn of Africa Services (HOAS), an agency focused on serving African immigrant and refugees in Seattle; Child Care Resources (CCR) which, among its other roles, supports FCC providers and the vast Family, Friend and Neighbor Network in King and Pierce counties; and the ParentChild+ National Office which supports the implementation of the ParentChild+ program

The Department of Commerce grant supports a robust community planning process, utilizing this diverse network of partners, to explore the best ways to create a pipeline for FCC providers in historically underserved communities, many of which were already child care deserts pre-COVID-19. This deep partnership is uniquely situated to examine the possibility of building expanded networks of FCC providers from among parents in the community who have already experienced coaching and support on being their children’s first teachers and now are ready to share their knowledge and skills with other children and families in their communities.

The focus of the project is on:

  1. Identifying successful ways to build a robust FCC provider pipeline utilizing assets in the community.
  2. Building a career path for ParentChild+ parents.
  3. Providing much needed child care in under-resourced communities across King County and Washington state.

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