Early Start Act Passes!

Right now, we should all be proud Washingtonians!


The Early Start Act (House Bill 1491) is now on the governor’s desk, having passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, and the next biennial budget includes $158M more for early learning. As important as this historic investment in early learning is, we would not have made it without the power of partnership.


I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Thrive’s four legislative board members — Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-Seattle), Sen. Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island), Rep. Maureen Walsh (R-Walla Walla) and Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) — who championed this bill every day of session and worked in constant partnership with each other, colleagues and supporters throughout the state.

I want to thank Gov. and Trudi Inslee for setting the tone this session, starting with a budget that strongly valued children and families.


And, I want to thank all of our partners in organizations and communities statewide and all of you for staying constantly engaged over the past six months to make this happen.
A high-quality early start in life is the best start for all children.


With Early Start and the other early learning investments, we have a very real opportunity to close the opportunity gap that affects far too many children in low-income families and children of color.


Passage of the Early Start Act means:

  • Thousands of Washington children and families will have access to the high-quality early learning that helps more children be happy, healthy and prepared kindergartners;
  • The adults who help Washington’s youngest children learn will have unprecedented new resources; children in low-income families and child care providers in low-income communities will have priority for new resources.
  • There is a greater focus than ever on ensuring that early learning quality improvements work for our diverse communities.


We are still combing through the final budget and will get back to you with more details, but we wanted to celebrate with all of you this win for our state’s youngest children and their families.


7 comments Early Start Act Passes!

July 02, 2015 at 1:08 am, Jacqueline Sund, Ed.D. said:

I hope you will take this opportunity to revisit early learning curricula that has guided Head Start programs in the past. My colleague, Bon Vernarelli, and I have been conducting research on handwriting education in preschool settings, funded by Arizona Western College. While the results are not yet ready for publication, the anecdotal evidence is compelling. Preschoolers who have attended Head Start programs have failed to develop even the most basic handwriting, while children who attended private preschools all had achieved competent handwriting. We are currently working with Dr. Laura Dinehart (Florida International University) to expand the scope of handwriting education for preschoolers. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our research with you.


July 02, 2015 at 4:37 am, Dennis Weber said:

Sam, I am a former WEA local president in Longview and am curious if Thrive Washington is ready to take the next step toward empowering schools to address the resilience factors that help[ student s from a culture of poverty succeed? Research shows that what students from a culture of poverty really need are five things: adult mentors to provide nuturing guidance (not just classrom teachers but the support staff like nure=ses, librarians, PE and Music specialists, etc.); a safe harbor from the chaos of their lives at their schools (no racial slurs, bullying, etc.);remediation of skills (since they begin school so far behind in linguistics); positive goal-setting for the future; and a social services “wrap-around” network to connnect them and their families with the help thatis available in our society? It’s not about Test,. Test, Test … it’s about meeting the real needs of kids.


July 02, 2015 at 5:08 am, Molly O'Connor said:

Thanks for your note, Dennis. We are very aware of these issues and growing our work in early learning to address Adverse Childhood Experiences, which make it difficult for increasing numbers of children to succeed in school and later in life. Key to that work is building their resilience at an early age.


July 02, 2015 at 9:53 pm, Viki Draper said:

After teaching in the public schools and then in a WorkFirst program at our local community college and closely with early childhood in many capacities, I know how important those early years are and the value of early education with kids and their families. I also know that in trying to fund schools we CANNOT short our supports to struggling families!! Those kids can’t thrive w/o a home, ample diet and medical care–and the stress that puts on them. They can’t learn if they’re worrying about adult problems such as where they’re going to live and what they’ll eat. We have to fund both!!


July 10, 2015 at 11:01 am, In Quotes: Celebrating in Washington State | said:

[…] signed a landmark bill for our state’s littlest learners today. The Early Start Act will help more than 48,000 children get access to quality early learning thanks to historic new […]


September 03, 2015 at 9:56 pm, Why 60% of Children in Washington Do NOT Attend Preschool said:

[…] to qualify for ECEAP – a state preschool program that now, with the passage of the 2015 Early Start Act has funding for nearly every child that qualifies). They are what I call the forgotten middle […]


September 08, 2015 at 2:56 am, Post-Session Notes, Operating Budget Comments | Ross Hunter said:

[…] quality. I’ve written about this before, and will do so again. Other comments on the legislation: Thrive Washington, Gov. Inslee’s comments, KPLU, Children’s Alliance, Education Week, and finally Arne Duncan, […]