Mission: Readiness Member Visits Washington State Capitol to Advocate for ECEAP
Rear Admiral (Ret.) Eleanor Valentin met with key lawmakers to discuss programs that set kids up for success and strengthen national security
On January 23, Mission: Readiness member Rear Admiral (Ret.) Eleanor Valentin, U.S. Navy, met with legislators at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia to discuss the importance of the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) and how it relates to our national security.
Seventy percent of young adults ages 17-24 in Washington do not qualify for the military, due to multiple factors, with the main barriers including: no high school diploma, not meeting the minimum score on the military’s entrance exam, a history of crime or substance abuse, and/or obesity. Both military and civilian careers require proficiency in reading, writing, and math, as well as “executive function” skills like communication and problem solving.
If we do not address such problems early on in children’s lives, the nation risks shortages of qualified recruits and our state’s military and business employers will face an ongoing “skills gap.” Admiral Valentin shared her perspective on this critical data with five lawmakers, all of whom have a background in the military, law enforcement, or public safety.
Research shows if we invest early in proven, high-quality programs like ECEAP, children will be more ready for kindergarten and have greater success throughout their K-12 experience. For example, a Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) study concluded the impact of ECEAP on later student test scores is nearly twice the average effect of pre-k programs in other states. Investing in and expanding access to high-quality early learning programs can broaden career paths in a variety of sectors for Washington’s most vulnerable children.