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Notes From Olympia: Sept. 17, Interim Updates

Included in this edition: Trivia, Policy Resources, Agency Budget Requests, Reports, and More!

Erica Hallock September 17, 2021
  • Policy and Systems
  • Blog

Trivia!

According to an August 23rd tweet from the Washington State Archives (@WAStateArchives), the following proposed mottos for the state seal were all rejected at the 1889 Constitutional Convention:

  • Our Varied Industries Invite You
  • Westward the Star of the Empire Takes its Way
  • Welcome
  • Put None but Americans on Guard
  • We, the People, Rule
  • First in peace, first in war, and first in the hearts of real estate agents

In the end, what motto accompanied the final state seal?

Fair Start for Kids Act & State Budget Resources

Start Early Washington recently released two resource documents related to the Fair Start for Kids Act and the 2021–23 state budget investments in early learning. The first document summarizes the key components of the Fair Start for Kids Act and the second breaks down state and federal investments included in the 2021–23 state budget.

As a result of the Fair Start for Kids Act and accompanying budget investments, new policies are slated to go into effect on October 1, 2021, including:

  • A new Working Connections Child Care co-payment schedule that reduces families’ share of the cost of care;
  • A shift from using Federal Poverty Level to State Median Income to determine eligibility for Working Connections Child Care (a description of why this is important is included in the Fair Start for Kids Act summary link above); and
  • Income eligibility for Working Connections Child Care increasing to 60% of the State Median Income ($51,804 for a family of three).

Child Care Collaborative Task Force Report Released

Earlier this month, the Washington State Child Care Collaborative Task Force convened by the Department of Commerce and the Department of Children, Youth, and Families released its latest report, focused on outlining a strategy, timeline and an implementation plan to increase child care access. This report builds on previous efforts, including a child care industry assessment.

The Child Care Collaborative Task Force strategy document was completed after the passage of the Fair Start for Kids Act this spring and the task force’s recommendations complement the provisions of the new law while also laying out a vision for further action to address pressing child care workforce challenges. The report underscores the 43% turnover rate in our state’s child care workforce and emphasizes the negative impact of this turnover on ensuring that families have access to high quality child care.

The task force was recently extended and its final charge is to submit a cost of quality child care study to the Governor and Legislature in 2022. The intent is to use the information from the cost of quality work to develop a financing model to support higher wages.

State Economic Forecast

Last week, the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council met to receive an updated Economic Review from the state’s economist, Dr. Steve Lerch.

On the positive side:

  • Revenue continues to outpace previous projections, with collections at $90 million above what was projected in June.
  • Our state’s employment rate is similar to what it was in June.
  • Our state’s personal income growth through 2025 is expected to be higher than what was projected in June.

On the risk side:

  • Not surprisingly, COVID continues to be the greatest risk to our economy. Rising COVID cases and higher inflation have led to lower consumer confidence in the past two months.
  • The number of households saying eviction or foreclosure is “very likely” in the next two months has increased.

The next revenue forecast will be released on September 24th.

Agency “Decision Packages” Released

Every mid–September, state agencies submit agency budget requests (commonly referred to as “Decision Packages”) to the Office of Financial Management for consideration to be included in the Governor’s budget released each December.

The state began the 2021–23 biennium on July 1, 2021, so the 2022 budget is a “supplemental” budget. By design, supplemental budgets are intended to make tweaks and adjustments, rather than new, significant investments.

DCYF submitted three Decision Packages related to early learning:

  1. A $16.1 million request for ECEAP to convert slots from part–day to full and extended–day; increase rates to reflect those in King County and program quality support funding that was previously supported by private dollars.
  2. A placeholder request to align funding with the November forecast on caseload.
  3. Increased spending authority to more accurately reflect the level of funds in the Home Visiting Services Account.

What’s next? The Office of Financial Management staff will spend the next two months sifting through these requests, evaluating updated revenue figures and building a budget for the Governor to approve and present in mid–December. From there, the work shifts to the legislative arena.

Upcoming Legislative Work Sessions

Several virtual legislative committee work sessions are scheduled for this fall, including:

  • A September 22nd work session in the House Children, Youth and Families Committee focused on training for early learning licensors and
  • An October 19th work session on Children and Youth Behavioral Health.

DCYF is Hiring!

The task of implementing the Fair Start for Kids Act requires additional staff capacity at DCYF. Following are some open positions. Feel free to share with interested parties:

Trivia Answer

In the end, no motto accompanied the design! If you were to select from one of the options, which would you prefer? I’m going for the simple “Welcome.” It stands the test of time.

About the Author

Erica Hallock

Erica Hallock

Director, Policy & Advocacy, Start Early Washington

Erica Hallock serves as the Director of Policy and Advocacy for Start Early Washington. She has worked in early childhood, health and human services policy in both California and Washington state.

More About Erica