The recommendation for a statewide preschool program comes for the Early Learning Technical Workgroup, established in Senate Bill 6759. That workgroup submitted its final recommendations in November.
SB 6759 required the group to develop a plan for a voluntary program of early learning as either a part of basic education or as an entitlement program, to help support school readiness for all children in Washington. The final recommendations propose phasing in a high-quality, comprehensive preschool program open to all 3- and 4-year-olds with a graduated co-pay based on family income. The workgroup recommended a mixed-delivery system of providers, including nonprofits, faith-based organizations, licensed child care facilities, private schools, ECEAP and Head Start providers, school districts and others.
ELAC members reviewed the recommendations and heard public comment before deciding to recommend that QEC adopt the workgroup recommendations, with one addition and one change:
- Adding a Birth-to-3 Technical Workgroup, which would use the existing state Birth to 3 Plan as its basis to focus on enhanced services for infants and toddlers.
- Phasing in the workgroup's recommendation that lead teachers in the preschool program be required to have a Bachelor of Arts degree.