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Expanded Learning Wins and Important Progress this Session

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Policy & Legislation, School's Out News, STEM

The 2019 legislative session ended on April 28 with a lot accomplished for the state and final operating, capital, and transportation budgets. Among those were some great wins for youth and expanded learning providers. We also made great strides on some hard fought battles and will press on in session 2020 – only nine short months away!

Big thanks to the Washington Expanded Learning Opportunities Network, our partners, and everyone that sent emails and made calls to legislators. Big thanks to Rep. Valdez (King), Rep. Ortiz-Self (Snohomish), Rep. Santos (King), Rep. Ormsby (Spokane), Rep. Kloba (King/Snohomish), Rep. Reeves (King/Pierce), Sen. Mullet (King), Sen. Wilson (King/Pierce), Sen. Wellman (King), Sen. Walsh (Benton/Columbia/Franklin/Walla Walla) for being willing to sponsor and champion expanded learning opportunities (ELO) issues this session.

Highlights from the 2019 session:

  1. ELO Quality Initiative – The ELO Quality Initiative was funded at $750,000 for FY2020. This will provide coaching, training, assessment, and provider incentive for programs to participate in the Quality Initiative and ensure we have the best ELOs for our children and youth. Learn more about the Quality Initiative here.

  2. Youth Development Workgroup – School’s Out and many of our partners worked hard to pass legislation that would create a statewide workgroup to make recommendations for a statewide prevention and promotion strategy for children and youth. While House Bill 1644 did not pass, this was the most robust conversation on prevention and promotion over age five the legislature has ever had. While the bill did not make it to the finish line, it made significant traction and received tremendous support. We had a strong vote in the House; over 25 organizations signed in at committee hearings including the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI); and it passed policy committees in both committees and we have a commitment from legislators; the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF); and OSPI to continue to conversation after session.

  3. Career Connected LearningHouse Bill 2158, creating a permanent career connected learning initiative. The goal is to ensure all students have a pathway to post-secondary opportunities and have a career path. We pushed for amendments that would clarify the opportunity and role expanded learning opportunities provide in career exploration and employability skill-building. While those amendments did not make it on, ELOs are an allowable use of the local funds that will be granted out to career connected learning intermediaries (local STEM-Hubs, workforce boards, and educational service districts). We will continue to work with our partners at Career Connect Washington, Washington STEM, and OSPI to build out the role for ELOs and career pathways and exploration.

  4. School-Age Child Care – This session was a mixed bag for School-Age Child Care. An existing child care workgroup was reconstructed to become a Child Care Access Workgroup. This workgroup will work on many issues relating to child care including developing a new model to determine market rates and get providers subsidy rates that are closer to the actual cost of programming. School-Age Child Care has a seat on this workgroup and we will advocate for school-age issues. In relation to subsidy rates, the legislature only funded increases for providers participating in Early Achievers that rate at a level three and above. We have a lot of work to do to educate policymakers on the critical role School-Age Child Care plays in life of a student and cost of providing high-quality learning before school, after school, and in the summer.

  5. Social-Emotional LearningSenate Bill 5082 creates a permanent Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Advisory Committee at OSPI that will among other things, support SEL learning opportunities for youth, teachers, and the communities that surround our schools. There is an ELO seat on the committee as well as a youth development seat. We were excited to see amendments connecting schools and communities as well as culturally-based organizations make it into the bill to help ensure SEL supports across the day and year.

  6. Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account (PSTAA) – PSTAA is a funding stream from Sound Transit construction projects. The fund was created by the legislature and passed by voters for programs and projects that support vulnerable youth in the sound transit region of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. Senate Bill 5851 passed which clarified the uses of funds and helps maintain the fund. Right now there are efforts underway in all three counties to determine the best way to use the funds to support improved youth outcomes.

Thanks again to everyone for their advocacy efforts on behalf of our youth and the ELO field. If you have any questions or thoughts, please email David Beard. And stay tuned for more policy updates and WELON meetings coming this summer and fall and make sure you are signed up for a free membership to WELON and the National Afterschool Association!

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