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.
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.