ECEAP Budget Recommendations 2019-21

It's budget time for ECEAP!  The House and the Senate have each proposed budgets for ECEAP, with varying slot rate increases and new expansion slots.  WSA, along with our coalition partners at the Early Learning Action Alliance, have some recommendations to the legislature about what our programs need to make sure we can continue to provide high quality services to children and families and expand to meet the thousands of children who have no access to high quality pre-k.

We appreciate the very strong commitment the legislature has always shown to ECEAP, our nationally recognized and proven preschool program.   Lawmakers have committed to reaching all eligible children who want ECEAP by 2022-23, and have steadily expanded access for the last 10 years.

 

This year the challenges are a bit deeper, as programs are struggling with unprecedented increases in costs due to the minimum wage, licensing, McCleary and its associated CBA agreements, and SEBB.  Investment in both a significant slot rate increase and enough new spaces to ensure we can reach the 2023 goal are needed in this year’s budget. 

 

WSA and the Early Learning Action Alliance recommend the following approach:   

 

Provide a minimum of $37.9 million for ECEAP, the House budget level

 

Prioritize rates.  We have programs turning back ECEAP slots already due to the inadequate slot rate, and many more are considering it for 2021.  We will not be able to reach our state’s school readiness objectives if organizations like school districts, nonprofits and child care lose money on every child.   Many programs are facing current deficits (not including next year’s SEBB and a 12.5% increase in minimum wage in 2020) of 10-20%.   They simply will not apply for expansion, and improving the current WaKIDS readiness rate of less than 33% for low income children will become increasingly out of reach.  We recommend a minimum 10% rate increase for all models, 5% in FY20, 5% in FY21. (chart below)

 

School Day and Extended Day Slots only.  Over two thirds of current slots are part day, and as a state there is no need for more.  Community assessments (and waitlists) reinforce that parents and children need school day and extended day ECEAP, and any programs who want additional part day can easily be accommodated by the many applications from programs wishing to convert their part-day to school day.  We recommend 1075 slots, 90% School Day, 10% Extended Day.

 

Flexibility for DCYF.  Often the types of slots funded by the legislature are out of alignment with what the demand is on the ground.  Any language that will give DCYF flexibility to shift slots based on community need would be welcome.

 

 

 

For more information, please contact Katy Warren,  or Allison Krutsinger..

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