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Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: child care rating system

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January 14, 2014 at 3:39 PM

To raise quality of early learning, proposed carrots and a stick

State Rep. Ross Hunter (Photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

State Rep. Ross Hunter (Photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Enrolling a child in a high-quality child care can easily cost $15,000-$20,000 a year, especially in the Seattle area. Most families can’t afford that, even if they qualify for federal or state subsidies.

Throughout Washington state, only about 30 percent of children attend programs that have earned a score of 3 or better on the state’s voluntary child-care rating system, said state Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

Yet a growing body of research suggests that quality matters when it comes to preparing children for kindergarten — and that low-income children may have the most to gain.

So how can Washington get higher-quality care for more of its youngest residents?

In a bill introduced Tuesday, a bipartisan group of legislators are proposing a mix of carrots and sticks.  The prime sponsors are Hunter, who leads the House Appropriations Committee, and state Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, chair of the Senate’s education committee.

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Comments | Topics: child care rating system, early-childhood education, preschool