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In the Early Start Act of 2015, the Washington State Legislature required child care and early learning providers who serve non-school-aged children and receive state subsidies to participate in Early Achievers, the state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). This legislation also directed WSIPP to examine the relationship between Early Achievers quality ratings and long-term outcomes for children who participate in state-subsidized child care and early learning programs. WSIPP was required to produce annual reports to the legislature from December 2019 through December 2022; the final report must include a benefit-cost analysis of Early Achievers.
In the second report in this series, we found that enrollment in a pre-kindergarten site that met minimum Early Achievers quality standards positively predicts greater kindergarten readiness. In this third report, focusing on the sample of children with child care subsidy, we found that the positive relationship between enrollment in a site that met minimum quality standards and kindergarten readiness is driven by children with two or more years of enrollment in “at quality” care. Additionally, we found that the positive relationship between enrollment in care rated “at quality” and kindergarten readiness is strongest for children attending sites in neighborhoods with higher levels of community vulnerability, suggesting that quality care may be effective in addressing the kindergarten readiness gap associated with neighborhood disadvantage.
For WSIPP’s next report in the Early Achievers evaluation series, due in December 2022, we will conduct a benefit-cost analysis of Early Achievers. Additionally, we will examine the geographic availability of early childhood education and child care at sites rated “at quality” and “above quality.”