Have a Heart for Kids Day 2020

Policy Brief: the Early Start Act

The bipartisan, historic Early Start Act (H.B. 1491) enacts unprecedented policies and resources to help ensure all children a great start. These include:


  • Provides parents with information about the quality of early learning so that they can make informed choices for their children.
  • Supports continuity of care so that children receive the consistent care essential for bonding and attachment and parents can count on stable care.
  • Recognizes that high-quality early learning is culturally and linguistically responsive to the needs of families.


  • Establishes unprecedented new resources for professionals including scholarships, grants, annual quality awards, and free training and coaching.
  • Provides focused supports for providers serving children in low-income communities, including:
    -Grants to purchase materials and supplies;
    -Access to substitute teachers;
    -Translation of materials into provider and family home languages.
  • Requires differentiated types and amounts of technical assistance and coaching based on individual provider need and cultural context.
  • Provides consistent, predicable funding through 12 month child care subsidy enrollments.
  • Increases subsidy payments to providers demonstrating high quality.
  • Requires a professional development pathway for providers that is culturally and linguistically reflective of their needs and demographics.
  • Supports a system that providers and families can count on by providing funding to support quality in the maintenance level state budget.


  • Requires that providers receiving public funds demonstrate high quality through participation in Early Achievers and attainment of set quality levels.
  • Requires an Early Achievers Review Subcommittee to review and inform the Department of Early Learning’s ongoing Early Achievers implementation, with specific consideration of cultural and linguistic responsiveness.
  • Requires ongoing annual reports to the legislature reviewing Early Achievers progress to ensure it is working in our diverse communities.
  • Protects access to care by triggering a process to review barriers and mitigate impacts to children served if 15 percent or more providers in any county or ZIP code don’t meet quality rating requirements after 2018.
  • Directs that a joint select committee of the legislature meet in 2018 to review Early Achievers implementation, including adequacy of resources.
  • Requires exploration of alternate quality assessment tools that meet the culturally specific needs of Washington Tribes.
  • Directs collection and analysis of longitudinal data disaggregated by race/ethnicity focused on child outcomes.


Legislative bill report.

Grid of key policy changes included in the Early Start Act.

Our blog post on passage of the Early Start Act.

Get a PDF version of this policy brief.