Washington State invests record amount in early education


Earlier this summer, Washington state legislators voted to invest a record $158 million on early education policies during the recent 2015-17 biennial budget cycle, the most it has ever spent.

The Early Start Act will infuse $158 million into early childhood programs that will benefit children, families, providers and diverse communities. The Early Start Act passed with strong bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate, and Governor Jay Inslee signed the Early Start Act into law in early July.  

Specifically, the Early Start Act:

  • Provides unprecedented new training resources to early learning professionals;
  • Prioritizes resources to children in low-income families and child care providers in low-income communities; 
  • Provides free coaching and supports to child care providers, with flexibility in type and amount of coaching based on individual need and cultural context. 
  • Establishes 12-month authorizations for child care subsidies, regardless of changes in family circumstance.
  • Brings a greater focus than ever to ensuring that early learning quality improvements work for our diverse communities.

Read more about the Early Start Act here.

In addition, Washington State legislators included additional resources in the state budget for other early learning programs, including resources to continue to expand the state’s state preschool program. Preschool is set to become a state entitlement for all eligible children, according to existing law, for all income-qualified children by 2020-21.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan saluted the progress in Washington, "High-quality preschool is incredibly important to giving kids a strong start in school and in life. I want to congratulate Gov. Jay Inslee, educators and other leaders in Washington state on the Early Start Act, which will improve early learning opportunities for over 48,000 children, building on the successes the state's Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant. It's a huge step toward a vision for a comprehensive early learning system that will make Washington a leader in doing the right thing for our youngest children.”

-Jon Gould
Deputy Director

Jennifer Jennings-Shaffer
Early Learning Policy Director
Children’s Alliance

(August 25, 2015)