2018 State Legislative Session: Raising ELO Visibility
by Bill Wells | | Posted under
The 2018 Washington State Legislative Session was short and sweet. There were many victories for kids and for Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs). Big thanks to all the ELO providers, stakeholders, youth, and parents that came to Olympia, wrote emails, made calls, and posted on social media supporting ELO priorities. Next session we hope to become even louder and hope you’ll join us.
Save Tuesday, January 15th, 2019 as we’ll be convening at the state capital and we need you there!
Below are some of the policy wins and almost wins we saw this session. If you would like to hear more about this session, join us for our final What’s Up at the Capitol: ELO Legislative Update on Wednesday, March 14th at 9:00am.
- ELO Quality Initiative – Our top priority this session was supporting the continuation of the ELO Quality Initiative. To achieve positive youth outcomes, programs must be high-quality. This Initiative supports coaching, technical assistance, and program resources to participate in the program quality improvement process. Providers and ELO stakeholders all over Washington weighed in and we were able to secure $750,000 for State Fiscal Year 2019 (the 2018-19 school year). The movement to support ELO quality continues forward!
- State ELO Council – SOWA worked with many of our partners to reconstitute and continue the ELO Council. This Council has worked over the past several years to create state-level recommendations regarding funding, governance, and program supports for ELOs. While we were not successful this session, we will be working over the interim to identify opportunities to enhance support for ELOs from the state.
- Civics Learning Initiative – SOWA is a sponsor of the Washington State Civics Learning Initiative. Given the lack of civic involvement and the often challenging political discourse in our state and country, it’s time to have a focus on supporting youth to positively engage with each other politically and otherwise. The goal of the Initiative is to support civics learning and engagement all day and all year long. This session, we worked to pass House Bill 1896, which increases civics-focused professional development for social studies teachers as well as two in-school and out-of-school civic demonstration sites that aim to show how civics learning can support academic and social-emotional growth as well as a knowledge of our government and how to share and debate ideas.
- School-Age Child Care – SOWA continues to join our friends in early learning to support child care provider rate increases. Currently, child care rates do not meet the cost of care or doing business, which puts the ability for a provider to support a high-quality environment (or even stay in business) at risk. On the positive side, the legislature passed House Bill 2367 which creates a Child Care Task Force aimed at developing policies and recommendations to incentivize employer-supported child care and improve child care access and affordability for employees. SOWA advocated for and got a seat dedicated to expanded learning. We will work to ensure school-age child care interests are represented on this Task Force.
- Education and STEM Funding – SOWA joined many of our K12 partners in advocating for K12 and STEM-related investments that include a pathway to support kids in ELOs. While there were no major changes to these buckets, we were able to thwart some last minute attacks to K12 funding streams that support ELOs like the Learning Assistance Program. One positive note is that the recently created High-Poverty Learning Assistance Program will now have a three-year rolling average for a school to qualify. Qualifying schools are now those schools that have a three-year average of at least 50% kids on the Free and Reduced Priced Meals program. To learn more about ELO funding streams, be sure the check out the OSPI ELO Guide. We also supported several pieces of legislation that improve access to meals for kids including Breakfast After the Bell, which could help ELO providers with more access to breakfast programs and equipment.
- Sound Transit Education-Related Funding – Voters passed an initiative to increase transit investment in the urban and suburban areas of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. Included in this measure was a fund to support children and youth across the age-span called the Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account, which will result in $500m of funding split across the three counties (based on population) over a 20-year period. This account came under attack this session, but we were able to work with our partners in higher education and early learning to preserve it. Now, each County Council will decide how the funding will be spent. If you are interested in joining those discussions, please contact David Beard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Capital Funding – The State Capital Budget includes funding streams that support ELOs such as the Youth Recreation Facilities Grant and the Building Communities Fund. Capital funds support brick and mortar construction. Remember, if you’re a provider and have construction needs, don’t forget about state capital funding! Learn more here.
Remember to support ELOs by signing up to take action! If you have any questions about this session or ELO advocacy broadly, please contact David Beard at email@example.com. Great work everyone!
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