Now is our moment to make Washington a great state for great starts!
Last month Gov. Jay Inslee proposed the state’s largest-ever investment in early learning. And last week, the much-anticipated bipartisan Early Start Act (HB 1491/SB 5452) made its debut in the Legislature.
Sponsored by Sen. Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island) and Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-Shoreline), both Thrive board members, the Early Start Act integrates the latest findings on how children learn into the everyday lives of Washington’s babies, toddlers and preschoolers. The Early Start Act will:
- Help parents find high-quality care and learning opportunities that work best for their children
- Promote high-quality early learning and parent choice
- Get more children ready for kindergarten
- Help more child care providers offer high-quality, culturally responsive care to children from low-income families and diverse communities
Key to the bill are three programs: Early Achievers, the state’s quality rating and improvement system for licensed child care; Early Childhood Education & Assistance Program (ECEAP), the state’s preschool program for children from low-income families; and Working Connections Child Care, the state’s program to help low-income working families afford child care.
The Early Start Act enhances the equity, access and high quality that is at the heart of our state’s early learning system. It recognizes the brain science and the positive, long-term effects quality early learning has on a child’s school readiness, overall health and life. And it builds on the practices, programs and policies that have made Washington state a nationally recognized leader in early learning.
We ALL need to support the Early Start Act because we will ALL benefit from it. Research repeatedly proves that a great start for children leads to more successful schools, stronger families, more self-reliant and healthier adults, and safer communities.
Please join Thrive and many partners, providers and parents in support of the Early Start Act. While the bill has strong bipartisan support in both houses, we’ll still need your help over the next few months, writing legislators, testifying in Olympia and staying active on social media. This will be a team effort to get it passed.
Thrive is especially proud that our four legislative board members are leaders on this bill. Thank you, Sen. Litzow, Rep. Kagi, Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane), and Rep. Maureen Walsh (R-Walla Walla).
I can’t say it enough … Now is our moment to make Washington a great state for great starts!