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.