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Hunter's Early Start Act clears State House, moves to Senate
Rep. Ross Hunter
The state House of Representatives approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Ross Hunter that he says will substantially improve the quality of early learning for kids in Washington State by a vote of 64-33 on Feb. 18.
“If we want to improve school readiness outcomes for students, our best investment is in high-quality early learning,” said Hunter, who represents Kirkland in the 48th District.
“We now know how to assess the quality of pre-school programs and assess these outcomes. We just have to be serious about doing it. The evidence is really clear – quality early learning is the best investment we can make to close the achievement gap here in Washington.”
The House bill, Early Start Act of 2014, will use a balanced approach - a mix of incentives and requirements - to increase child care quality by getting more facilities to provide high-quality child care.
Washington State has done an excellent job creating and expanding our early learning network. We have nearly 7,500 child care facilities that serve about 174,000 children.
The focus now must be on improving the quality of care those children receive each day. Only high-quality child care provides a positive return on investment. It leads to positive outcomes like greater academic achievement, increased graduation rates, lower incarceration rates, less poverty, and less reliance on government assistance.
“McCleary talks about improving education outcomes for children,” said Rep. Ruth Kagi, chair of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee. “This bill will do more to close the opportunity gap than anything we have done in a long time.”
The bill has now moves to the Senate for consideration.