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2017 State Legislative Session Update: Many Good Things for ELOs

by Danielle Baer | | Posted under Afterschool and Summer News, Policy & Legislation

The 2017 state legislative session is finally almost over with the Legislature tackling the final task of passing the Capitol Budget. One major hurdle was met in the early morning hours last Saturday with the passage of the biennial Operating Budget and the K12 Funding/McCleary Plan, both officially signed by Governor Inslee.

Included in the final budget were many bright spots for expanded learning opportunities afterschool and in the summer.  This will help in our collective efforts to build momentum for the Sparkwind Movement and increasing equitable access for more children and youth to high-quality programs!

Learn more about the impact of the 2017-2019 budget and legislation on ELOs:

ELO Quality Initiative – We were excited to see the ELO Quality Initiative in the final budget agreement! The Initiative was funded for Fiscal Year 2018 at $750,000 and we will be coming back next session to secure funding for Fiscal Year 2019. With this funding, the initiative launched this past year to engage more ELO programs in quality improvement efforts will be increased impacting even more young people.  Big shout out to providers, funders, SOWA staff, SOWA lobbyists, our advocacy partners as well as youth that came to Olympia and communicated by phone and email. It’s wonderful to see state commitment to building high-quality, fun, and engaging programming.

New Department of Children, Youth, and Families – In order to build a state agency with a focus on prevention and promotion, the Legislature pulled the Department of Early Learning, the Children’s Administration (that oversees child welfare), and juvenile rehabilitation-related offices into one department. SOWA and our partners have some work to do to ensure that ELOs and youth development have a role in the new department to support the over one million children and youth in Washington State. Stay tuned for more, we’ll need your help. Learn more about this legislation.

Child Care Provider Rate IncreaseThanks to the good advocacy work by our partners at Child Care Aware, the YMCA, and the Children’s Alliance; providers (including School-Age Only Providers) will see a 6% increase in the provider rate for subsidies. While there is still a need for a higher rate, this is great progress in a very challenging budget and negotiating climate. More to come on how this will roll out.

Academic, Mentoring, and Innovation (AIM) Grant Program – Over the past two years, the Boys and Girls Clubs have been able to utilize this grant program to get more youth in school-connected ELO programming. Senate Bill 5258 allows more programs to apply for this grant and the budget includes a slight increase in funds to $357,000 for the next two years. Kudos to the Boys and Girls Club in helping the state launch this program!

ELOs and Career and Technical Education and Computer Science – Another bright spot for afterschool and summer is the agreement on Career and Technical Education (CTE) as well as computer science funding. ELOs are now eligible for funding under the CTE statute, with CTE funding decisions being made by school districts. There was also new funding for computer science which promotes community partnerships with organizations like ELOs. While none of this funding is dedicated to ELOs, it does open up other funding resources and partnership opportunities with school districts to get more students into high-quality ELOs that promote career pathways and skill building as well as STEM learning.

SEL Benchmarks Work Group – The state Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Benchmarks Workgroup developed recommendations for SEL learning standards. The budget includes funding to continue the implementation work of this funding and expanded learning was granted a seat at the table. This is great news in bringing to light the great work that ELO providers do to support SEL skill development.

K12 Funding Plan (McCleary Plan) and ELOs – The Legislature is still under a mandate by the State Supreme Court to fulfill the court’s order to fully fund education per the McCleary lawsuit. The state legislature put forward revisions to the state school funding structure that passed last week. The success of the McCleary plan will depend on many factors, including partnership with community-based organizations like ELOs. Here is a story aired on KUOW interviewing representatives from League of Education Voters and Washington Paramount Duty speaking to the legislation.  We will provide a summary of the plan being put together by League of Education Voters providing overall details of the agreement and legislation once they have posted it. Some ELO-related information below:

No Child Left Inside Grant ProgramThis program relaunched in 2015 thanks to a bill that passed to magnify the positive impact outdoor education can make on a child’s development. ELOs have and can apply for this funding. It appears that not only was this program funded again, but actually saw a slight increase to $1.5 million over the next two years. The budget bill does stipulate that $500,000 of this funding must go to organizations that employ at least one veteran on staff. More to come!

Capital Budget – One of the last things the legislature must do is complete the Capital Budget which funds brick and mortar type projects across the state. We will continue to monitor progress on this budget over the coming weeks. Don’t forget to check out our new Capital Funding brief to learn more about state funding for ELO capital projects.

If you have any questions about the 2017 legislative session, please contact SOWA's Policy and Advocacy Director David Beard

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