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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). This legislation also directed WSIPP to examine the relationship between EA 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 EA.
We previously found that attending a site meeting EA quality standards in the pre-kindergarten year was associated with better outcomes in kindergarten, compared with attending a rated site that did not yet meet standards. In this fourth report, we focus on projected monetary benefits tied to those outcomes. On average, attending an EA quality Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) or child care center may return benefits of approximately $4,300 to $7,000 per child over the course of the lifespan. Analysis of aligned program costs was limited by data availability.
This report—along with a concurrent report examining low-income families’ access to publicly funded EA quality child care and early learning—concludes WSIPP’s Early Achievers evaluation series.