SB 5484 establishes improvements to the Early Achievers Program that require additional financial support and advises setting child care subsidy rates at the 75th percentile of private market rates.
This legislature further states that the objectives of the Early Achievers Program also includes providing professional development and strong training to child care and early education providers.
SB 5484 intends to raise base subsidy rates for licensed child care centers and family homes to the 75th percentile for infants and toddlers by considering rates for providers serving these young children. Further, the legislature intends to:
- Provide adequate funding to increase needs-based grants, scholarships, and professional development assistance; as well as
- Reduce Early Achievers coaching ratios in order to support providers in continuous improvement.
SB 5484 specifies that while there are 5 primary levels in the Early Achievers Program, the DCYF must establish an intermediate level that is between level 3 and 4, while serving to assist participants transitioning to level 4. Moreover, 1391 also extends the rate requirements from 12 months to 24 months.
By December 1st, 2019, the Department must:
- Implement a strong cross-accreditation process with multiple pathways that allows a provider to earn equivalent Early Achievers credit resulting from accreditation by high quality national organizations.
- Analyze consumer income and copay requirements in the Working Connections Child Care Program and report such recommendations to the governor and legislature.
- Submit a plan to pay providers an enhanced rate, award additional Early Achievers points, and create a corresponding trauma-informed care designation for providers serving behaviorally challenged children.
- Propose recommendations to the governor and legislature related to paying child care subsidy providers a set monthly rate rather than a daily rate.
By December 31st, 2021, the WA State Institute for Public Policy shall:
- Update the outcome evaluation of the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program; and
- Report to the governor and legislature on the outcomes of program participants.
Finally, this act would require DCYF to adopt new administrative policies in the Early Achievers Program, detailed in the bill.
*Companion to HB 1391*
- Provides that an Early Achievers rerating resets the rating cycle timeline for participants rather than be considered a renewal.
- Specifies that DCYF must submit a detailed plan to the Governor and Legislature detailing a robust cross-accreditation process by December 1, 2019, rather than implement a process by that date.
- Adds that a provider must notify DCYF when an ECEAP program moves to a new facility within six months to retain the existing rating; requires an observational visit.
- Ceases tiered reimbursement incentives if the provider fails to notify until a new rating is completed.
- Allows a new child care provider who rates below a Level 3 to rate or request to be rated at Level 3 or higher within 12 months, instead of 6 months, of beginning remedial activities.
- Provides that DCYF must continue to prioritize resources to assist providers to reach a rating of Level 3 or higher not only during the first 30 months of implementation of Early Achievers.
- Removes the limitation that needs-based grants be for providers at Level 2.
Allows needs-based grants to be used for environmental, instead of physical, improvements and infant-toddler improvements.