All children deserve the best start in life and school possible — and we all benefit when they get it. They’re healthier, more successful in school and more engaged and productive in society and life.
Five years ago, Washington released a 10-Year Early Learning Plan to help us build a high-quality early learning system that offered all children the best start in life. Today, the Early Learning Partnership — Department of Early Learning, Department of Health, Department of Social and Health Services, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Thrive Washington — released a midpoint report highlighting the Partnership’s progress on five of the plan’s 36 strategies and the challenges that keep us from helping EVERY child start kindergarten ready to succeed.
Washington state has collectively accomplished so much in such a short time. We have better-coordinated and higher-quality services for young children and families. We have smarter policies that were developed with the goal of closing the opportunity gap, which starts early and disproportionately impedes the healthy growth and development of children of color. We have increased investments and commitments at all levels of government. And we have more families throughout the state who understand the importance of the first years of life and are working hard to give their children the best start possible.
All of this happened because we worked together, especially when it was hard. We deserve a moment to celebrate our successes, and then we must get right back to work.
We hope our in-state colleagues will read this midpoint report, share it with others and use it as an opportunity to share your own successes with the Early Learning Plan over the past five years. We hope our out-of-state colleagues will find good ideas for their own work and also feel free to push on us to say more.
Over the next five years, about 450,000 babies will be born in Washington state. Let’s give them the best start — and future — possible.