Early learning issues have been a hot topic in this year’s short supplemental session. Four bills were introduced at the start of the session, two in each legislative chamber (1 was a companion bill requested by the Governor). Here are the bills that legislators in one chamber have passed, which will now move to the other chamber for consideration.
On Saturday the 13th, House Bill 2731 passed the House 67-28 with strong bipartisan support. If passed, it would establish a voluntary early learning program for educationally at-risk children within the basic education program. This bill is important because it would cement the relationship between early learning and K-12 basic education in Washington state.
On Monday the 15th, Senate Bill 6759 passed the Senate unanimously 47-0. This bill, sponsored by Senator Claudia Kauffman, would establish a ‘working group’ to study whether early learning should be included in the definition of basic education or defined as an entitlement program.
Also on Monday, House Bill 2867 passed the House 66-32. This bill makes legislative findings based on academic research relating to the connection between early childhood development and social and academic functioning in children. With these findings and Washington’s current shortage of high-quality birth-to-three programs, the bill declares legislative intent to fund birth-to-three programs and services. It also requires the Department of Early Learning to develop a birth-to-three plan that provides education and support to children and their caregivers.