Bill Would Permanently Add Regional Voices to State Early Learning Conversations

If successful this legislation session, House Bill 2282 would add 10 more seats to the Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC), the body that advises the state Department of Early Learning (DEL).


But more importantly, HB 2282 would permanently add 10 regional voices — and votes — to the state’s planning and policy discussions on how to build the best early learning system possible for our state’s youngest children and their families.


“It’s very important that the people who really understand what’s happening at the local level are the ones who have some say in the carrying out of the policy for the state in regard to early learning,” said Helen Myrick of First 5 FUNdamentals, Pierce County’s early learning regional coalition, during her testimony Monday to the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee.


Adding regional voices to ELAC is just one the of 11 recommendations from the Washington Early Learning State and Local Coordination Project that would help our state create a more responsive and culturally appropriate early learning system. It is the only recommendation that requires legislation to implement.


Right now, coalition representatives are currently non-voting members, and DEL Director Bette Hyde is committed to making sure their voice matters. We are confident she will do that. However, we know that leadership is not permanent. This bill makes permanent the goodwill Dr. Hyde has extended and ensures that state-level discussions about our early learning system will benefit from the breadth and depth of community-level expertise and considerations.


This bill “hardwires this (regional) expertise into the Early Learning Advisory Council, and it hardwires it for the long term,” said Jon Gould of the Children’s Alliance in his testimony in support of the bill.


Thrive by Five Washington has worked closely with the coalitions for years, supporting them with grants and technical assistance to help them grow their capacity. We value their expertise and their ability to reach and engage families, especially those furthest from opportunities. That’s why we support this bill and the coalitions’ efforts to advocate for this bill.


Our state’s early learning successes depend on the coalitions having a vital role … a voice and a vote.


The House Early Learning & Human Services Committee is expected to vote on HB 2282 tomorrow.