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Making Sure Kids Enter School Ready to Learn

Kelly Blucher and her son Justice joined the governor and partners to talk about access to high quality affordable child care on October 24, 2018.

When a child enters kindergarten, teachers administers a whole-child assessment to determine the child’s readiness to begin school. This assessment gives teachers information about the social-emotional, physical, cognitive, linguistic, math and reading development of the children in their classrooms. This helps teachers tailor instruction to each child's individual needs.

In 2018, fewer than 47 percent of children were assessed as kindergarten-ready, and only 34 percent of five-year-olds were considered ready in math – the area with most room for improvement. Performance on this assessment  informs the state’s policy decisions around early childhood education and development, including priorities such as increasing access to preschool and high quality child care options. 

Key Factors That Influence Kindergarten Readiness

Early learning opportunities – High quality child care and/or preschool provides young children with opportunities to develop in all domains essential for kindergarten readiness. The state funds more than 11,500 preschool slots and provides a child care subsidy program for eligible low income families and providers that serve them.

Social supports – Healthy child development requires specific social supports for both the child and family to prepare for success in school. Washington funds 2,231 home-visiting services that provide social supports to families with high-risk children ages zero to three.

Quality early learning – Parents want their children to be nurtured in a high quality learning environment to ensure proper development for their futures. Washington's Early Achievers program rates the quality of child care providers and identifies opportunities to improve the quality of care and support young children receive. More than 1,100 providers in Washington have achieved a good quality rating (rated three or above).

Housing and essential needs – Access to stable housing, food and other essential needs is necessary to create stability in the home environment to prepare children for entering kindergarten.

Actions We Are Taking to Deliver Results
  • The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction collects and reports on the WaKIDS whole-child assessment administered at kindergarten classes around the state.  

  • The Department of Children, Youth and Families is working to integrate programs to ensure that a flexible set of services and supports are available to the children that need it most and that these services have common standards, share resources and are administered to maximize outcomes for children. 

  • The Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP) is expanding to serve all eligible children and families who choose to participate by 2022-23. 

  • Early Achievers, Washington's quality rating and improvement, is a key strategy of Washington's Early Learning Plan to improve the quality of child care and early care education settings.  

  • Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) provides services, including individualized, quality early intervention services, to children birth to age three who have disabilities or developmental delays.

Performance Dashboard

Objective: Improve Kindergarten Readiness

Preschool Enrollment Slots

Home Visiting Services

Source: Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families