Mission: Readiness and ReadyNation Washington 2019 Legislative Session Wrap-up
High-quality preschool and expanded learning opportunities were top priorities this year
The 2019 legislative session concluded its 105-day session on time on April 28th. The legislature approved a two-year, or biennial budget, for 2019-2021 and a revenue package along with many policy bills. Here is a summary of how Mission: Readiness’ and ReadyNation’s priorities fared.
Our membership of business leaders and retired military leaders advocate for high-quality preschool, specifically, our state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, known as ECEAP. In the 2019 legislative session we supported: (1) a rate increase to invest in the cost of quality care; (2) slot expansion to serve more eligible children; and (3) a capital investment to create more learning space.
ECEAP made gains in all three areas. For rates and slots, ECEAP received a $34.7 million investment in the operating budget. This includes: $15.1 million for a six percent rate increase in the per child reimbursement rate that will help ECEAP programs cover the cost of high-quality care; and $19.6 million for 1,171 more slots which will expand services to more eligible children. On the capital side, $18.1 million was invested in the Early Learning Facilities Fund (ELFF) to help ECEAP and early learning providers serving low-income children purchase, construct, or modernize facilities. ReadyNation members helped advocate for the creation of the ELFF in 2017.
In addition to budget investments, ECEAP saw some policy victories related to increased access. Due to the passage of SB 5437 and SB 5089, ECEAP programs have more flexibility to enroll low-income preschoolers when space is available. These policies provide flexibility to programs yet do not cost the state money to implement.
Expanded learning opportunities
Expanded learning opportunities, or ELO, are the times when children and youth are in before and after school and summer time programs. Mission: Readiness and ReadyNation supported an investment in a quality initiative that supports program quality so that students can become workforce- and military-ready and prepared for success in life. A $750,000 budget investment was made in the ELO quality initiative to maintain services for one year.
In closing – THANK YOU
Thank you to our Mission: Readiness and ReadyNation members who advocated on behalf of children. During legislative session, Mission: Readiness and ReadyNation offered committee testimony in 8 instances, had more than 60 meetings with legislators and executive staff, including 16 instances when our members met directly with legislators, and sent emails to legislators to speak up for kids. See our blog post about our February 1st luncheon and legislative meetings and our February 28th hill day.