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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 (EA), the state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). The Early Achievers program was intended to improve access to high-quality care for low-income families and other groups.
In this report, we examine low-income family access to subsidized child care, Early Childhood Education and Assistance Programming (ECEAP), or Head Start programming that has met Early Achiever’s quality standards as of 2019, at the end of the initial Early Achievers roll out. Our estimates indicate that, on average in Washington in 2019, there are roughly three low-income children nearby for each high-quality publicly supported child care/early learning “slot.” Across the state, we find considerable variation in local access to child care that has met EA quality standards. However, we do not find large differences in average access across the following neighborhood comparisons: urban/rural regionality, majority/minority BIPOC population makeup, or higher/lower vulnerability designation.
This report—along with a concurrent analysis of benefits and costs of EA—concludes WSIPP’s Early Achievers evaluation series.