July 20, 2015
Washington is Setting a New Quality Bar for Kids
By Tricia Raikes
Co-Founder, Raikes Foundation

Quality doesn’t happen by accident, especially when it comes to education. That's why, for the last seven years, the Raikes Foundation has been working with organizations like School’s Out Washington, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation and Spokane County United Way to train hundreds of Washington organizations in how to understand, evaluate and improve the quality of their programs for school-age kids. Now, thanks to legislation recently signed by Governor Inslee, Washington state is taking another important step to provide our young people with high-quality experiences that extend beyond the classroom.

Since 2012, the state’s Early Achievers program has helped birth-to-five child care providers reach the highest bar of quality. The Early Start Act signed into law this year will create a pilot program to extend this quality rating and improvement system to also support organizations serving school-age kids. As a result, Washington is poised to become one of the first states in the country with a birth-to-18 quality framework that not only invests in our youngest learners but also focuses on maintaining their gains as they transition and navigate through our K-12 education system. There's still much work to be done to make this vision a reality, but we're thrilled with the state's commitment and look forward to lending our support.

There’s much to celebrate from this legislative session in Olympia—from the Early Start Act to the Homeless Youth Act. On behalf of the Raikes Foundation, I’d like to thank all of the policymakers who supported youth issues this session, including Governor and First Lady Inslee, Rep. Kagi, Rep. Hunter, Sen. O’Ban, Sen. Litzow, and Sen. Hill. The commitments made toward youth issues in Olympia this year are investments in the future of our state's economy and society.