Monday, December 15, 2008

Another budget casualty - preschool rating system

Washington's Department of Early Learning is putting the brakes on its new Seeds to Success pilot program. It's another sign of what's to come as state leaders figure out how to manage the state's projected $5 billion revenue shortfall.

Seeds to Success is a pilot program recently launched in five communities around the state. The state evaluates preschools who opt-in to the program and assigns a quality rating that is made public. In exchange for participating in the program, preschools gain access to resources that help them improve the quality of care they provide. The idea is to help families find quality care for their children while helping providers improve their services.

The Department of Early Learning is hoping to save about $2.8 million and instead minimize cuts to the state-funded preschool program known as ECEAP (early childhood education assistance program).

Like the cuts to the state's Basic Health Plan, this is one more example of the tough budget decisions state agencies will face in the coming months.