Thrive 2017 Legislative Session Policy Priorities

The early learning community appreciates the state’s decade of commitment and investment in its youngest children and their families. We are a national leader in our bipartisan efforts to close the opportunity gap and increase kindergarten readiness. Because of our state’s policies, programs and parent engagement, increasing numbers of children are born healthy, learn in a variety of high-quality child care settings, and start school ready. We are fortunate to live in state where so many see the importance of a cradle-to-college investment in its children. 

This next biennium, Thrive looks forward to working with the governor, legislators and partners to build on our successes. Together, we will innovate, invest and inspire to improve outcomes for children and families.


Maintain high quality of the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) and expand access to serve every eligible child by 2020

When children get a strong, early start, they do better in school, work and society – and all of Washington state benefits now and in the future. Key to this strong start for our state’s more vulnerable children is our state-funded preschool program. ECEAP provides high-quality education and support services for children and their families. Recent studies found that children who attend ECEAP have stronger kindergarten entry skills than their peers, and their success persists with higher math and reading scores in third, fourth and fifth grades.

2017 Priorities: Increase access for eligible children; cover full cost of program for each child; support more working families by funding more full-day program spaces


Strengthen, sustain and expand home visiting programs statewide

Home visiting is repeatedly proven to strengthen families and give children the best start possible. Evidence shows that when families receive home-based support, children are healthier and better prepared for school, parent-child bonds are stronger, and abuse and neglect are less likely. King County’s Parent-Child Home Program found that its services increase children’s kindergarten readiness, English language proficiency and academic performance into third grade. Unfortunately, current home visiting programs reach less than a quarter of the estimated 37,000 eligible children and families living in some of our state’s most vulnerable communities.

2017 Priority: Sustain and expand high-quality home visiting services for families in high-risk communities


Actively Contributing

Support early learning within the creation of a new state child-focused agency

Children and families thrive when the services that support them are coordinated and easily accessible. The new cabinet-level Department of Children, Youth and Families will build on the strengths and successes of the Department of Early Learning, integrate and align state policies, programs and people from multiple agencies, and be held accountable for the effective use of state resources.

2017 Priority: Ensure early learning is a strong centerpiece of a new, consolidated state agency

Print Version: 2017 Policy Priorities 12.7.16