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Washington State Lawmakers Aim to Move Day Care Beyond Babysitting

Universal preschool has become a feather in the caps of many a politician these days—see my colleague Christina Samuels' blog earlier this week—but who's advocating for high-quality day care, a necessity for many working parents?

Washington state lawmakers are now discussing ways to make the day-care experience more meaningful by offering stricter learning standards.

According to The Seattle Times, legislation is being pieced together by state Reps. Ross Hunter and Ruth Kagi, both Democrats, that would expand state-funded day care while incorporating early-learning goals and standards.

In effect, this would upgrade state-provided day care from a babysitting model to one that is more akin to a preschool environment, albeit with longer hours. Currently, states including Washington only require health and safety standards be met.

Already, support for the idea in Washington state appears bipartisan: Rep. Maureen Walsh and Sen. Steve Litzow, both Republicans, Island are on board, The Seattle Times states.

"A statewide quality ratings system would be based on neuroscience and the best practices in early learning," the paper said. "All child-care providers receiving state subsidies would have to meet new standards, which would be measured by early-childhood education experts at the University of Washington."

Such an effort would aid 55,000 children who spend 10 hours or more in child care offered by Working Connections, a program for families who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits, The Seattle Times reports.

While there is no way to know for sure whether such legislation will take hold in Washington, it seems of note that policymakers are ambitious enough to push for early-learning standards beyond the boundaries of formal preschool education.

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