Last year, Washington state passed a major expansion to its existing education and childcare programs called the Early Start Act, which is due to become law statewide on July 1, 2016. With approximately $158 million pledged to early development programs, the bill has been widely heralded as a step forward in increasing access to education. If you are just learning about these changes, however, you may be wondering what it will mean for your preschool-aged child. Depending on your income and the preschool program you choose, these are four ways the Early Start Act, or ESA, could make a noticeable difference in your child's education.
Providing Stable Child Care
One of the biggest headaches for low-income families relying on state benefits in the past has been losing coverage over brief fluctuations in income and life circumstances. The strict nature of child care and education subsidies meant that one parent receiving a small raise was often enough to lose state support, leaving the family worse off overall. Under the ESA, once you are approved for a childcare subsidy, you are approved for a full 12 months regardless of what happens in between. This will allow low-income families to maintain consistency during the crucial early years of a child's development.
Improving Subsidized Child Care and Education
The ESA is particularly focused on improving standards in state subsidized preschools and child care centers, and any early education programs receiving state subsidies will be required to meet higher standards within several years. Any preschool that does not accept state subsidies will not be mandated to meet these standards, though voluntary participation is being encouraged by the state.
Supplying Training and Guidance for Educators
If you are concerned about your child's preschool or care center being punished for failing to meet new guidelines, it may be comforting to know that these new criteria are being matched by increased funding and guidance programs for educators and child care providers. This support is meant to be primarily concentrated in low-income and diverse areas, which may be the most vulnerable to changes within the system.
Increasing Access to Preschool Programs
Alongside the Early Start Act, the Washington state legislature also passed expanded funding specifically for preschool programs as part of the state's effort to make preschool a fundamental right within the next decade. If you have previously enjoyed state benefits, you may be eligible for additional subsidies to help you cover costs, or you may notice a significant influx of funding to your child's school. When in doubt, contact your child's current or prospective preschool to learn how the new law will impact them specifically and, by extension, your child.Share
15 June 2016
Ever since I was a small child, I submersed myself in books. Whenever I started a new work of literature, I was instantly transported to another exciting world. Besides burying myself in books, I also actually enjoyed going to school in order to learn new things. My love affair with learning motivated me to earn four college degrees. As an adult, I still enjoy becoming educated about unfamiliar things. Thankfully, I don’t ever have to stop learning. Many colleges and universities regularly provide continuing education courses for those whose thirst for knowledge is never quenched. Regardless of whether you wish to learn how to sew, dance, or excavate ancient ruins, you can discover your passion in a continuing education class. On this blog, you will find out more about this incredible opportunity to learn for a lifetime. Enjoy!