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City of Seattle

September 20, 3:50 PM click here to comment > 2

Mayor outlines plan to bring Preschool for All to Seattle

Today Mayor McGinn announced funding for the next steps to develop Preschool for All in Seattle, following through on his commitment first announced in January. The 2014 Proposed Budget also includes $500,000 in additional funding to expand the early learning programs that will serve as the building blocks of Preschool for All.Mayor Early Learning 05 sm

McGinn’s 2014 Proposed Budget includes $50,000 to create a Preschool for All proposal that can be submitted to the voters. This $50,000 in general fund dollars will be combined with $50,000 from the Families and Education Levy. The proposal will assess options for phasing in and funding universal preschool for 3 and 4 year olds, cost estimates, and strategies to ensure it is of high quality, accessible, and affordable. The study will be completed by spring 2014.

This study builds upon the first phase of the analysis, completed in June 2013, of all publicly-funded programs that provide support to children birth through third grade. This initial study was funded by the Families and Education Levy, and was overseen by the Office for Education. The study found there was no comprehensive system of services for children birth to third grade and that multiple funding sources with artificial restrictions reduce ability to flexibly meet demand.

“I’m excited that every child in Seattle could have the opportunity to get a quality, affordable, accessible preschool education,” said McGinn. “Universal preschool is one of the best ways to prepare students to succeed in school and get a good start in life. I am also grateful to the City Council that they have embraced the concept of universal preschool and that we have been working together on this opportunity.”

A coalition of early learning and child-care providers, advocates and allies say they support the Mayor’s package, including the Children’s Alliance, Powerful Schools and others.

“This initiative creates opportunities to ensure that Seattle children and families who need access to high quality early learning and care will get a strong start,” said Janice Deguchi, executive director of the Denise Louie Child-Care Center in Seattle.

Coalition members say the package addresses four critical areas important for any early learning initiative to succeed: access, school readiness, professional development and stabilization of the pre-kindergarten teacher profession.

“The combination of universal voluntary preschool for all 3 and 4 year old children with high quality child care and parent support could significantly improve the odds of school and life success for Seattle’s youth,” said Paola Maranan, executive director of The Children’s Alliance.

McGinn’s budget also invests nearly $500,000 into several early learning programs that lay the foundation for launching a citywide universal preschool system. These include:

  • Increase professional development for pre-kindergarten teachers and caregivers through the Early Learning Academy. The Office for Education will spend $25,000 to add 20 in-home family child-care providers to the Early Learning Academy, and spend $20,000 to double the incentive bonuses for those that complete the training.
  • Stabilize the pre-kindergarten teacher profession to ensure more children thrive in a stable environment for learning and care. A teacher stabilization provision in City contracts and agreements with early learning and child-care providers will boost retention of effective teachers and help prevent disruption of services to young children and their families.
  • Enhance language and literacy development with $156,612 in funding for the Read and Rise pilot project. This project will provide training for 150 families of children from pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade to help narrow the achievement gap for under-served, low-income families.
  • Fund a preschool classroom for homeless children ages 3 to 5 years old. $249,218 in funding will allow up to 15 homeless children to receive high quality teaching at the Wellspring Early Learning Center that includes well-qualified teachers, a low student-to-teacher ratio, childcare, and parent engagement. Research shows such resources create the opportunity for children to be better prepared for kindergarten and for life. The program helps to mitigate the effects of trauma in children who are experiencing crisis by promoting social and emotional developmental skills.
  • Increase training, support and outreach for immigrant and refugee child-care providers. A total of $148,500 in funding will cover an additional 60 providers to the City’s Comprehensive Child Care Program. The Human Services Department will also spend $104,000 to add an education specialist to the Comprehensive Child Care Program to improve quality support and training to prepare providers for advancement within the Early Learning Academy and accommodate the growing caseload.
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Posted by: Words: April Thomas, Pictures: Jen Nance

Comments

Comment from Molli
Time September 30, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I am a Certified type 04 teacher from Chicago. When I moved here I was told by that you do not have to be a certified teacher to teach preschool. That is not the case in Chicago. Early Childhood Educators specialize in ages Birth to 3rd grade. Here in Washington the Elementary Teacher is K-8. My question is who will be teaching these preschoolers? Nation wide there is a push for Early Learning due to the research obtained about the developmental growth of children between the ages of 3-5. I think Preschool for all is wonderful, I am just hoping there will be certified early childhood teachers teaching in those classrooms.

Comment from Jennifer
Time October 30, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I agree with Molli that we need to develop and enforce a higher standard for who is allowed to be a preschool teacher. I think that we have made some headway on this and the new Early Achievers/QRIS system being developed by Washington State Department of Early Learning is helpful. Many preschool teachers in our state do have BAs or higher in child development, education or related degrees. Most of these teachers are earning well below the median income and as an early childhood administrator I earn less than most public school teachers. My small program has lost many qualified teachers to the public schools due to wages and benefits even though my program pays an above average wage with benefits. The wage disparity is not due to employers pocketing profits at the expense of teachers though. I support the effort to work with existing programs to build a universal preschool system, but who is going to be responsible for improving wages and benefits for these teachers. If programs are saddled with this cost it will get pushed onto already overburdened families, and some programs will go under. I believe most early childhood professionals whole heart-idly support a universal preschool system, but we are hoping that the city will open a dialogue with existing providers and give us a real voice in how this plan takes shape. There is potential for many mistakes, set backs, and resistance if existing programs are not given a voice in shaping this plan.