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New Regulations regarding School-Age Programs Operating in School Buildings

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

On July 25th, the Department of Early Learning (DEL) sent an email out to providers titled “School-Age WAC Update.” This email read, in part: “for all school-age programs that operate on public and private school premises, DEL will no longer inspect for or regulate under WACs as outlined in the School Age Facility Environment WAC List. It will be the responsibility of these programs to address any observations or concerns that relate to these subject areas directly with school personnel.”

So what does this mean exactly? Well, all licensed school-age programs have been periodically inspected to ensure that the site location met certain building specifications per regulation as well as meeting other kinds of regulations regarding provider qualifications, records, etc. For programs operating in school buildings, meeting those building specifications often meant making modifications to the classrooms or spaces inside the school or on the school playground where their programs were held.

These new guidelines from DEL, per legislation, will no longer be enforcing building and playground specifications for programs operating in schools, be they public or private. In other words, if the space is good enough to be in a school, it does not need to be modified for a school-age program. DEL will still inspect school-age programs for compliance with regulations not having to do with the physical space.

Licensed school-age programs that don’t operate in a school (such as a community center or private facility) still need to meet the same regulations as before, as would any preschool program operating in an elementary school.

Below is the full text of the email sent out by DEL on July 25. SOWA will be closely monitoring implementation. David Beard would be happy to answer any questions you have at dbeard [at] schoolsoutwashington.org.


The Department of Early Learning (DEL) recognizes that educational institutions are required to establish and maintain ongoing compliance with specific provisions of law, regulations, contracts, grants, ordinances and Federal standards designed to keep children safe during educational instruction.  

The Early Start Act (House Bill 1491) was approved on June 30, 2015, and later amended to include new language that modifies DEL’s scope of authority to regulate the physical facility environment of programs that operate on school premises. HB Section 4-(2)(a)(b) specifies the following:

  • (2)(a) In consultation with the state fire marshal’s office, the director shall use an interagency process to address health and safety requirements for child care programs that serve school age children and are operated in buildings that contain public or private schools that safely serve children during times in which school is in session;
  • (b) Any requirements in (a) of this subsection as they relate to the physical facility, including outdoor playgrounds, do not apply to before-school and after-school programs that serve only school age children and operate in the same facilities used by public or private school…”

DEL has defined the “physical facility environment” as all of the physical structures maintained within or attached to the structural building and premises, and that are directly maintained by the public or private school.

Therefore, for all school-age programs that operate on public and private school premises, DEL will no longer inspect for or regulate under WACs as outlined in the School Age Facility Environment WAC List. It will be the responsibility of these programs to address any observations or concerns that relate to these subject areas directly with school personnel.

DEL will revise WAC and RCW to reflect these changes and let you know when they go into effect. We understand that there may be questions that relate to these changes.  If you have questions that are not answered in the materials provided in this message, please feel free to contact your local licensing office for more information.

For quick access to the Legislation, please see the links below:


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