The Children's Alliance has issued the following action alert concerning House Bill 2659.
- Reach out to House Early Learning & Human Services Committee Members to share your support for the bill and ask them to pass HB 2659. See new talking points to support this advocacy attached and pasted at the bottom of this update.
- Sign in PRO at the hearing this Friday. If you are unable to be present, you can send your name and organization to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will sign you in.
Talking Points and Data Points - 1/18/18
Every child deserves a great start in life. Early learning leads to more successful schools and students, strong families, and healthy communities and economies. But too many kids don’t have access to the high-quality pre-K they need to arrive at school ready to reach for their fullest potential.
- Washington teachers assess entering kindergarteners at the beginning of each school year. Only 1 in 3 entering kindergarteners from families that struggle to afford the basics are equipped with the tools they need to succeed.
- Entering kindergartners eligible for free and reduced-price lunch (i.e. those whose families are earning less than 185 percent FPL) are half as likely to be equipped with the tools they need as kids from more affluent families.
Washington has a proven means to close that gap: the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP). ECEAP delivers improved academic results in kindergarten and beyond.
- ECEAP’s gains are pronounced and persistent. Children who’d been enrolled in ECEAP as 3- and 4-year-olds outperform their peers in reading and math in the third, fourth and fifth grades.
- ECEAP kids are more likely to be ready for kindergarten than higher-income peers.
Not all kids who need ECEAP can get it. Outdated eligibility criteria means that just a fraction of kids who need high quality pre-K to equip them for success in school qualify for ECEAP.
- A single parent working full-time at minimum wage cannot enroll her child in ECEAP because her income is too high.
- One of the biggest obstacles to serving children in ECEAP is overly restrictive eligibility criteria. These make it difficult to implement ECEAP in rural areas, because there aren’t enough families who meet the criteria to start a program. Expanding eligibility means more programs in rural areas.
- Washington is far behind other states in providing access to state pre-K. We have one of the lowest levels of access. Only four states have income guidelines as restrictive as ours.
- Home health aides, child care professionals, hotel clerks, food service workers and dozens of other occupations pay too much for ECEAP—yet too little for any other form of quality pre-K.
- The opportunity gap in school readiness by race/ethnicity is stark, especially when comparing American Indian/Alaska Native, Latino, Pacific Islander and Black/African American kids to White and Asian kids. Children of color whose parents face structural barriers to good jobs and other forms of prosperity, especially Black and Latino kids, are significantly more likely to be eligible for free and reduced lunch.
Close the gap: Expand ECEAP. HB 2659 expands eligibility to match free and reduced-price lunch criteria. If we do, then more kids get the high-quality pre-K that sets them up for success in school and in life.
- The state Department of Early Learning has set a goal that 90 percent of children are school-ready by 2020 and that race and income are eliminated as predictors of success.
- Moving from the current 47.4 percent school-ready to 90 percent will require substantial changes in ECEAP eligibility guidelines.
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