Early learners would get the assistance and support they need to avoid falling behind their peers in kindergarten and throughout life, under legislation heard today by the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.
“Not everyone is ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, and those who aren’t often fall behind early and stay behind,” said Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Auburn, the committee’s vice chair. “This is a pattern that can hinder them through grade school and high school, into their careers and even into retirement. They lag academically, they fare worse in getting jobs and promotions and saving for retirement, and even their health may suffer.”
Among other things, Wilson’s Senate Bill 6253 would:
• Expand eligibility for Workings Connections benefits and the Early Education Assistance and Care Program;
• Reform the state’s confusing range of services and access by creating a single entry point from which each child can be directed to the programs or assistance they need; and
• Replace the current system in which students either qualify for a myriad of assistance and support, or qualify for none, with a system that provides students with assistance and support based on individual need.
“Under our current system, many children go overlooked and struggle in the critical early learning years,” Wilson said. “By making sure those who need assistance early on enter kindergarten ready to learn, and by redirecting our services to better match actual student needs, our students will be more successful in school and throughout life.”
Studies show that every dollar invested to address these early learning needs saves $7 in long-term educational and social costs by ensuring that early learners are ready to learn when it matters most.
“The critical early needs can mean the difference between someone who thrives through school into adulthood and throughout their life, and someone who struggles and requires assistance in multiple areas,” Wilson said. “Of all the money we can spend on education, investing in early learning can make the biggest difference and bring the largest return.”
Other components of the bill would increase access to parent education and support programs and phase in subsidy rate increases for licensed childcare providers to 75 percent of the market rate by 2023.