Washington passed the Early Start Act which includes supports for quality child care for children ages 5-12 through the School-Age Early Achievers Pilot; preserved funding to the Working Connections Child Care Subsidy program and afterschool mentoring programs; and increased funding for the Youth Recreational Fund to over $7.3 million over the two year budget cycle.
Policy Focus: Schools Out Washington (SOWA) and the Expanded Learning Coalition (ELC) worked on two primary pieces of legislation for the 2015 Legislative Session: House Bill 1795 (12 bipartisan co-sponsors)/Senate Bill 5690 (12 bipartisan co-sponsors) required districts to create partnership plans with community-based ELOs regarding Learning Assistance Program (LAP) dollars. House Bill 1960 (six co-sponsors)/Senate Bill 5814 (three bipartisan co-sponsors) refocused the defunct ‘Washington Community Learning Center’ program to add funding for ELO programs in low-income and rural areas as well as communities of color.
Other Bills of Interest: There are other bills that SOWA is actively supporting including an ELO Mentoring Bill (SB 5303); a STEM bill that supports grant-funding to ELOs and schools (HB 1813); a bill to lesson restrictions for school-based school-age ELO providers (HB 2100); a bill that will create a Quality Rating Improvement System pilot for school-age child care providers (HB 1491/SB 5452); as well as supporting legislation that creates new revenue and closes outdated tax loopholes. Given the regressive nature of Washington’s tax system (50th in the country), new avenues for revenue are needed to support 21st century needs, including high-quality ELOs.
House Work Session: In January 2015, Schools Out Washington was asked by House Education Committee Chair Rep. Santos to put together a worksession for the House Education Committee that provided an overview of ELOs.
- Quality: Parent Map magazine, a Seattle area print and online magazine geared at issues of interest to parents, is working on a 9–month series, After–School Special, where each article explores how the Quality Standards developed in Washington state are impacting the quality of after–school programs that serve about 134,000 youths after the school bell rings.
- WAN continues to support programs to increase access, enhance their facilities, improve program quality, purchase new curricula and supplies, provide staff training and start or expand services.