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Policy Priorities

SOWA works to encourage policy makers at all levels—city, county, and in Olympia—to become champions for accessible, equitable policies for afterschool and summer that are engaging, high-quality, and that look different than the school day.

At the state level, we engage the expanded learning opportunity field in advocacy work with the Washington Expanded Learning Opportunity Network, and work together with the Expanded Learning Coalition and our policy and advocacy partners to advocate for increased funding for and access to expanded learning opportunities for all of Washington’s youth. By engaging with decision makers through site visits, advocacy, and in Olympia, SOWA moves the needle for expanded learning in Washington.

At the federal level, SOWA works in close partnership with the Afterschool Alliance and the National Summer Learning Association

State Priorities

2020 Legislative Priorities 

The Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative (ELOQI) launched during the 2016–17 school year to provide the support needed to ensure that expanded learning programs can deliver the type of high-quality engagement proven to result in meaningful youth-level outcomes. ELOQI is a joint effort of School’s Out Washington (SOWA); Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF); Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI); Child Care Aware; and Cultivate Learning, University of Washington.

Over 100 program sites across Washington state have participated in ELOQI, receiving extensive supports, including assessments, coaching, and training, which have proven to increase program quality linked to improved youth outcomes. We estimate that over 11,000 youth across the state have directly benefited from these investments in their youth programs. Additionally, the initiative is working to create strategies to support children in school-age only child care as well as those in child care centers and family homes as part of Early Achievers.

To continue these impactful supports for summer and the following school year, ELOQI partners are working to secure $1 million for FY 2020 to:

School-age only child care is a vital expanded learning opportunity (ELO) supporting academic growth and social-emotional learning. These programs run before and after school, during the summer, and holiday breaks for children ages 5-12 and and are a critical support for working parents. Over 30% of children on the Working Connections subsidy are school-age, yet most child care discussions are only focused on zero-to-five. Below are three legislative requests for 2020.

Subsidy: Child care subsidy rates are well below market value and many low-income families still pay a portion of child care costs. Given the cost of care and providers’ struggle to stay in business and provide a living wage, rate increases should be made available to all child care providers.

Quality: While SOWA and ELOQI partners are working to align with Early Achievers (EA), the EA system was not built for school-age youth or providers. The ELOQI should continue to expand and support the school-age child care field in partnership with the EA system.

State Infrastructure and Support: Any legislation regarding child care should have specific language that will support and strengthen school-age child care.

Programs serving children and youth ages five through young adulthood – such as high-quality expanded learning opportunities, mentoring, and case/resource management – provide time for children and youth to engage in learning outside of the classroom. This helps them to build relationships with caring adults and other youth, apply academic concepts and social emotional learning in their own world/realities, and break down barriers and shape pathways for their own success in education and life. To grow and sustain this work, we have three goals for the 2020 session:

  1. Increased resources to provide culturally engaging opportunities to learn and grow through expanded learning; mentorship case and resource management; and other high-quality youth development activities such as the OSPI Academic, Mentoring and Innovation (AIM) program.
  2. Increased training and supports to provide trauma-informed, culturally responsive, and social and emotionally rich programming such as the ELO Quality Initiative, mentoring quality, and ensuring school-based professional development includes community partners.
  3. Integration and alignment of youth development programming, funding, and supports across the day and year, from school to community including additional FTEs in the DCYF Adolescent Unit.

This Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account (PSTAA) aims to improve educational outcomes for youth in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties who are low-income, homeless, and/or in the foster care system. Counties will receive proportional funding based on Sound Transit population and will determine best use of funds at the local level. SOWA supports sustaining PSTAA including promoting strategies that include an accountability plan for each county and a robust role for community engagement and collaboration in the planning for and utilization of this funding.



Join the Washington Expanded Learning Opportunities Network to learn more and stay engaged. 


Capitol Funding

Does your program or site have a construction need? Perhaps a new kitchen, playground, or even a new building? The state of Washington offers an often untapped resource for funding brick and mortar expenses, or capital funding, for educational and/or community-based organizations. Expanded learning programs are in a good position to attain capital funding, which includes the Youth Recreational Facilities grant (YRF), the Building Communities Fund (BCF), and Building for the Arts (BFA). We created this issue brief that goes into detail on the issue of capital funding, and the different options available to programs.


Federal Priorities

Protecting 21st Century Community Learning Centers from cuts

President Trump's proposed FY 2019 Budget eliminated 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the only federal funding stream for afterschool and summer programming.

21st Century Community Learning Centers make sure that children and youth in high-poverty schools are engaged throughout the day and year, and are a crucial support for working parents. The success of these programs in closing the opportunity gap is backed by research. They not only support children afterschool and in the summer, but lead to real academic gains that can help close the opportunity gap. Want to get involved?  Contact your congressional delegation to voice your support to continue funding for this critical program. 


Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization Act

The Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization Act is a critical piece of federal legislation that will impact all areas of afterschool and summer meals. For an analysis of the current bill, please visit the Food Research and Action Center.

Federal Appropriations

SOWA and our national partners, including the Afterschool Alliance, are closely monitoring the federal appropriations process.


For questions on expanded learning policy in Washington State or in your community, tips for inviting policy makers to visit your program, and more, please contact David Beard at