Understanding the Government Systems
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The state entities that oversee and govern the child care/early learning system in Washington state include the Governor’s Office, several state agencies, and the state legislative branch. These entities work collaboratively to provide high-quality resources so that Washington’s children and families can thrive.
A. Policy Staff
1. Human Services/Child Care
• Sydney Forester: Senior Policy Advisor, Human Services
• John Aultman: Senior Policy Advisor, Higher Education & Workforce Development
• Maddy Thompson: Senior Policy Advisor, Higher Education & College Access
3. Office of Financial Management (OFM)
• Carly Kujath: Budget Assistant
A. Washington State House of Representatives
1. Washington State House Appropriations Committee: The House Appropriations Committee considers the operating budget bill and related legislation, budget processes, and fiscal issues, such as pension policy and compensation. The committee also considers bills with operating budget fiscal impacts. Click here to view the members and staff roster.
2. The House Human Services, Youth and Early Learning Committee: Formerly known as the House Children, Youth & Families Committee, this committee considers a broad array of issues and services affecting children and families, including early learning; child care; child and youth development; child welfare services; children’s mental health; at-risk and homeless youth; and juvenile justice. Click here to view the members and staff roster.
3. The House Capital Budget Committee: The House Capital Budget Committee considers funding requests for capital construction, including early learning facilities.
B. Washington State Senate
1. The Senate Ways & Means Committee: The Senate Ways and Means Committee considers the operating and capital budget bills and related legislation, including the authorization of state debt. The committee also deals with tax policy and other fiscal issues such as pension policy and compensation, in addition to bills with operating budget fiscal impacts. Click here to view the members and staff roster.
2. The Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee: The Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee considers issues relating to kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12) education. The committee also considers issues related to early learning programs, including the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program and Working Connections Program. Click here to view the members and staff roster.
A. Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF)
DCYF is a cabinet-level agency focused on the well-being of children whose vision is to ensure that "Washington state’s children and youth grow up safe and healthy—thriving physically, emotionally and academically, nurtured by family and community. Click here to visit DCYF. DCYF administers the following programs:
1. Working Connections Child Care (WCCC): Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) helps eligible families pay for child care. When a family qualifies for child care subsidy benefits and chooses an eligible provider, the state pays a portion of the cost of child care. Parents may be responsible for a copayment to their provider each month. Click here to visit WCCC.
2. Early Achievers: Early Achievers is a quality rating and improvement system for child care and preschool in Washington. Providers must meet quality standards in order to participate in WCCC and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP). Scholarships, coaching, incentive grants and other supports are available to providers participating in Early Achievers. Click here to visit Early Achievers.
3. Seasonal Child Care: The Seasonal Child Care program pays child care subsidies for eligible families who: 1) Are seasonally employed in agricultural work; 2) Live in designated counties; and 3) Are not receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families TANF benefits. The program’s purpose is to provide safe, licensed child care while parents work in agricultural settings. Click here to visit Seasonal Child Care.
4. Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP): Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) is Washington's pre-kindergarten program that prepares 3- and 4-year-old children from families furthest from opportunity for success in school and in life. Eligibility for ECEAP was also expanded by the Fair Start for Kids Act. Click here to visit ECEAP.
5. Strengthening Families Washington: Strengthening Families Washington is a program within DCYF whose main focus is helping families become stronger together through a variety of tactics, including:
1) Home visiting: a voluntary, proven program where trained home visitors and parents work together to strengthen and support families in the child’s first years of life;
2) Community outreach and partnerships;
3) Funding opportunities with local organizations.
B. Washington State Department of Commerce
The Department of Commerce is the one agency in state government that touches every aspect of community and economic development: planning, infrastructure, energy, public facilities, housing, public safety and crime victims, international trade, business services and more. Commerce works with local governments, tribes, businesses and civic leaders throughout the state to strengthen communities so all residents may thrive and prosper. Click here to visit the Washington State Department of Commerce. Some of the initiatives and grant programs overseen by the Department of Commerce include:
1. Washington Child Care Collaborative Task Force (C3TF): The Child Care Collaborative Task Force (C3TF) was created by the Washington State Legislature in 2018 (SHB 2367) to develop policy recommendations to incentivize employer-supported child care and improve child care access and affordability for employees. Legislation passed in 2019 (2SHB 1344) extended the task force and expanded its scope of work, which culminated in a June 2021-December 2022 implementation plan to achieve accessible, affordable child care for all Washington families by 2025. Click here for more information about C3TF. According to the Washington State Department of Commerce Report:
“The task force strategy built on policy improvements and investments made by the legislature with the Fair Start for Kids Act and state budget. The Fair Start for Kids Act was designed to implement many of the task force’s earlier recommendations, according to remarks made by legislation sponsors and task force members Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island, 41st Dist.) and Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn, 30th Dist.)”
2. Employer-Supported Child Care Technical Assistance Program: The Employer-Supported Child Care Technical Assistance Program is supported by the Washington State Legislature and Commerce, in partnership with the Association of Washington Businesses (AWB) and the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). Through this program, employers are supported in exploring best options for their business environment and employees as they determine how to help in a way that also supports their bottom line for business success. Click here to visit the Employer-Supported Child Care Technical Assistance Program.
3. Child Care Partnership Grants: The Washington State Department of Commerce funded applications to support local partnerships to develop action plans that stabilize and expand child care capacity in communities. The following organizations are eligible to apply on behalf of a collaborative group: Washington nonprofit organizations, federally recognized tribes, and local government entities, including school and educational service districts. Applicants and populations served must be located in the state of Washington. Click here to visit the Child Care Partnership Grants.
4. Early Learning Facilities Fund (ELF): The Early Learning Facilities (ELF) program aims to help Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) contractors and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) providers to expand, remodel, purchase, or construct early learning facilities and classrooms necessary to support early learning opportunities for children from low-income households. ELF funding is open to nonprofits, public entities, K-12 schools and districts, tribes and for-profit businesses. Click here to visit ELF.
C. Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)
DSHS is tied together by a single mission: to transform lives. Each administration within DSHS has a refined focus on this mission. DSHS supports children and families with a variety of resources including assistance with child care, food, and other important services. Click here to visit DSHS.
1. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): TANF provides temporary cash for families in need. Some families participate in the WorkFirst Program. The WorkFirst Program helps participants find and keep jobs, and provides child care to parents. Persons caring for a relative's child, or legal guardians, or acting in the place of a parent, are also able to apply for TANF benefits on behalf of children through the Non-Needy Relative, In Loco Parentis and Legal Guardian Program. For more, click here to visit TANF.
D. Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
OSPI is committed to inclusive, asset-based policies and practices that increase equitable access to high-quality early learning opportunities within schools and local communities. OSPI has named ‘Equitable Access to Strong Foundations’ as one of Superintendent Reykdal's Vision and Priorities, with high priority objectives across the PreK-3rd grade continuum. Click here to visit OSPI.
OSPI is the primary agency charged with overseeing public K–12 education in Washington state. Their mission is to transform K–12 education to a system that is centered on closing opportunity gaps and is characterized by high expectations for all students and educators; they achieve this by developing equity-based policies and supports that empower educators, families, and communities. Some of the OSPI programs impacting children birth to 5 include:
1. Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP): CACFP is a federally funded child nutrition program that reimburses nonresidential child and adult care facilities for nutritious meals and snacks served to children and adults who are enrolled in care. Their goal is to improve and maintain the health and nutritional status of children and adults in care while promoting the development of good eating habits. NOTE: Sponsors are reimbursed through OSPI with funds from the USDA. Click here to visit CACFP.
2. Transitional Kindergarten: Transitional Kindergarten (TK) is a kindergarten preparation program for children below the age of five who do not have access to high-quality early learning experiences prior to kindergarten, such as Head Start, ECEAP, or other licensed child care programs. Additionally, they have been deemed by a school district, through a screening process and/or other instrument(s), to be in need of additional preparation to be successful in kindergarten the following year. T-K programs are offered by local school districts using state education funding inside elementary school buildings and use specific screening criteria to determine whether a child needs additional preparation to be most successful prior to starting kindergarten the following year. Transitional Kindergarten served approximately 3,140 children in the 2021-22 school year (Department of Children, Youth, and Families). Click here to visit TK.
E. State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC)
The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) is governed by a nine-member, governor-appointed board responsible for administering the Community and Technical College Act and providing leadership and coordination for Washington state's system of 34 public community and technical colleges. The SBCTC has encouraged and supported the expansion of community college curricula and degrees related to early childhood education. Click here to visit SBCTC.
1. Washington Campus Children’s Center Coalition (WCCCC): WCCCC is the organization of directors and program supervisors of campus child care programs in Washington state. Click here to visit WCCCC.
2. Early Achievers Grant: The Early Achievers Grant is a student financial aid program to help employed child care providers and early learning educators complete certificates and associate degrees in early childhood education. Click here to visit Early Achievers Grant.
3. Childcare provider training programs: Washington State’s community and technical colleges provide training for child care, offering associate degrees as well as state certification, both short and initial. (See the appendix for more college/program details.)
A. The Fair Start for Kids Act (FSFK)
The Fair Start for Kids Act expanded eligibility for child care and preschool, and created new supports for parents and providers. FSFK is a $1.1 billion investment for the FY 22/23 biennium to make child care and early learning more affordable for Washington families by expanding access, capping co-pays, and providing resources to support child care and early learning providers. Click here to visit the Fair Start for Kids Act.
B. Child Care Stabilization Grants: Child Care Stabilization Grants: The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provided DCYF with federal funds to help support child care providers during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. Applications to receive funds via the Child Care Stabilization Grant opened on October 13, 2021 and closed on September 30, 2022. See the Aappendix for a breakdown of grant allocations. Click here to visit Child Care Stabilization Grants.
A. Policy Staff
A. United States Senate (Official Website)
1. The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations: The role of the Senate Appropriations Committee is defined by the U.S. Constitution, which requires “appropriations made by law” prior to the expenditure of any money from the Federal treasury. The Committee writes the legislation that allocates federal funds to the numerous government agencies, departments, and organizations on an annual basis. Click here to visit The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations.
2. The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP): The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is composed of three subcommittees, which have a broad jurisdiction over our country’s health care, education, employment and retirement policies. Click here to visit HELP.
3. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation: The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is composed of seven subcommittees, which together oversee for the vast range of issues under its jurisdiction. Click here to visit The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
4. The U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget: The Budget Committee’s principal responsibility is to develop a concurrent resolution on the budget to serve as the framework for congressional action on spending, revenue, and debt-limit legislation. Click here to visit The U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget.
B. United States House of Representatives (Official Website)
1. The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations: The House Committee on Appropriations is responsible for funding the federal government’s vital activities to keep the United States safe, strong, and moving forward. Committee members work on behalf of the American people by prioritizing good schools, robust job training, affordable higher education, quality health care, and better infrastructure. Click here to visit The U.S House Committee on Appropriations.
2. The U.S. House Budget Committee Democratic Caucus Budget: The House Budget Committee Democratic Caucus is fighting for budget priorities that reflect the values of families across the country. We are committed to investing in our country's future, building a strong economy based on broadly shared prosperity, protecting and improving health care and other vital services for American families, and keeping our promises to seniors, veterans and the most vulnerable among us. Click here to visit The U.S. House Budget Committee Democratic Caucus Budget.
3. The U.S. Committee on Energy & Commerce: The Committee on Energy and Commerce is the oldest continuous standing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. It was originally established in 1795 to regulate interstate and foreign commerce. Today, the Committee has the broadest jurisdiction of any authorizing committee in Congress. Click here to visit The U.S. Committee on Energy & Commerce.
4. The U.S. House Committee on Education & Labor: The current U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor was established on January 3, 2019. The Committee’s basic jurisdiction is over education and labor matters generally, including oversight over matters related to higher and early education, workforce development and protections, and health, employment, labor, and pensions. Click here to visit The U.S. Committee on Education & Labor.
A. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (Official Website)
1. Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP): The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal program that provides reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at participating child care centers, day care homes, and adult day care centers. CACFP also provides reimbursements for meals served to children and youth participating in after-school care programs, children residing in emergency shelters, and adults over the age of 60 or living with a disability and enrolled in daycare facilities. CACFP contributes to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children and adults in the United States. NOTE: Sponsors are reimbursed through OSPI with funds from the USDA. Click here to visit CACFP.
Programs include: Team Nutrition (training for childcare providers and nutrition education for children and families), the Special Milk Program (provides milk to some children in schools and child care institutions), the Summer Food Service Program (federally-funded and administered by the state to reimburse program operators who serve free healthy meals to low-income children and youth), and more.
Click here for the full list of Child Nutrition Programs and learn more about each.
B. United States Department of Labor (USDOL) (Official Website)
C. United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (Official Website)
The mission of HHS is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services.
1. Administration for Children & Families (ACF): A division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), ACF promotes the economic and social well-being of families, children, youth, individuals and communities with funding, strategic partnerships, guidance, training and technical assistance. Click here to visit ACF.
2. Early Childhood Development Programs:
• Office of Head Start (OHS): OHS Administers the Head Start preschool, Early Head Start, Migrant and Seasonal Head Start, and American Indian and Alaskan Native Head Start programs. Head Start promotes school readiness for children ages birth to 5 who will most benefit from access to early education. Head Start programs are committed to supporting children's growth in positive learning environments through a variety of services, including individualized learning experiences and connections to health services, as well as strengthening parent-child relationships, and engaging families. Click here to visit OHS.
• Office of Child Care (OCC): OCC supports low income working families by subsidizing early care and after-school programs through the administration of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). CCDF also improves the quality of care to promote children’s healthy development and learning by supporting child care licensing, quality improvement systems to help programs meet higher standards, and training and education for child care workers. Click here to visit OCC.
• Preschool Development Grants Birth Through Five Initiative (PDG B-5): PDG B-5 provides grants to states to strengthen service delivery in early care and education for children from birth to five. Funds support important initiatives in States and Territories that improve program quality, increase access to programs, support the early childhood workforce, and maximize parental choice and meaningful engagement. Click here to visit PDG B-5.
• Tribal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV): MIECHV provides resources to strengthen tribal capacity to support and promote the health and well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native families, expand the evidence base around home visiting in, and support cooperation and linkages between programs that serve Native children and their families. Click here to visit MIECHV.
D. United States Department of Education (ED)
ED's mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. ED was created in 1980 by combining offices from several federal agencies. Click here to visit ED.
1. Office of Innovation and Early Learning (IELP): The Office of Innovation and Early Learning administers discretionary grant programs that support innovations and early learning programs. Click here to visit IELP.
2. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP): The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is dedicated to improving results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21 by providing leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts. Click here to visit OSEP.
A. Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF): The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is the primary source of federal funding for child care subsidies for working families with low incomes and funds to improve child care quality. DCYF is required to submit a CCDF Plan every three years. The CCDF Plan functions as the application for the CCDF grant, so it describes all DCYF's activities funded by the grant and how they comply with federal CCDF law and rules. Click here to visit CCDF.
B. Child Care Stabilization Grant and Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) Stabilization Grant: As a result of the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, funds are to be used to stabilize, support, and grow the diverse early learning workforce in a way that rebuilds a stronger child care system and expands access to affordable high-quality care. Funds will be available to child care providers in the form of: 1) Licensed Child Care Stabilization Grant; 2) Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) Stabilization Grant. The final payout will be made in September 2023. Click here to visit the Child Care Stabilization Grant and Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) Stabilization Grant
C. Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Act (MIECHV): The MIECHV Program supports pregnant people, families, and parents with young children who live in communities that face greater risks and barriers to achieving positive maternal and child health outcomes. For more information about MIECHV, click here.