Advocacy Day is almost here! CLICK HERE to sign up before Monday, January 22, and keeping reading below for more details about the big day!
Status Update: Day 12/60
The 2024 Legislative Session started last week on Monday, January 8. The BrightSpark Advocacy Team has been working to advance our legislative priorities while unpacking and responding to many policy proposals. We heard this short session has more returning and new bills than have been seen since 2013. There is a lot of work ahead, and it will all move quickly.
All of our 2024 legislative priorities are focused on funding, and therefore need to be included in the budget. We have only 48 days remaining to encourage more of an investment in the child care sector – and we’ll need your help to make that case. We encourage you to stay connected with us throughout the session and please reach out if you have any perspective to offer regarding our legislative priorities. Every day matters. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
How We Represent BrightSpark
We carefully consider each bill and identify an action plan based on the perspectives of program staff and members of the BrightSpark Executive Team. Below are the options available to get involved and express your stance.
Sign-In (Pro, Con, or Other)
- When we sign in, it means that BrightSpark has an opinion that aligns with or connects to the bill, but it is not a legislative priority this session.
- This option allows us to state BrightSpark’s position for the record.
Testify (Pro, Con, or Other)
- When we testify, it means that the bill is likely related to BrightSpark’s priorities.
- This option allows us to state our position during a live hearing, which is also recorded for the record. If we are con or other, we inform the bill sponsor in advance to avoid catching them by surprise in a hearing.
Written Comments (Pro, Con, Other)
- In some cases, we may submit our position on a bill via email and/or through the online system for the record.
Here are BrightSpark’s public hearing actions during the first 2 weeks of session:
1/9 Human Services, Youth, and Early Learning Committee (House)
- HB 1916 – Concerning funding for the early support for infants and toddlers program. (Sign in Pro)
- HB 1945 – Streamlining and enhancing program access for persons eligible for food assistance. (Sign in Pro)
- HB 2101 – Eliminating child care licensing fees. (Testify Pro – Logan Endres, BrightSpark Staff)
- HB 2111 – Clarifying requirements for subsidized child care. (Sign in Pro)
- HB 2124 – Supporting and expanding access to child care and early learning programs. (Sign in Pro)
1/9 Ways & Means Committee (Senate)
- SB 5950 – Operating Budget. (Testify Other – Logan Endres, BrightSpark Staff)
1/10 Appropriations Committee (House)
- HB 2194 – Operating Budget (Testify Other – Logan Endres, BrightSpark Staff)
1/11 Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee (Senate)
- SB 5774 – Increasing the capacity to conduct timely fingerprint-based background checks for prospective child care employees and other programs. (Sign in Pro)
1/17 Human Services, Youth, and Early Learning Committee (House)
- HB 2256 – Addressing the children and youth behavioral health work group. (Sign in Pro)
1/18 Capital Budget Committee (House)
- HB 2195 – Strengthening the early learning facilities grant and loan program by revisiting criteria and providing resources to the Ruth LeCocq Kagi early learning facilities development account. (Sign in Pro)
1/18 Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee (Senate)
- SB 5870 – Expanding and streamlining eligibility for early learning programs. (Sign in Pro)
- SB 5933 – Concerning funding for the early support for infants and toddlers program. (Sign in Pro)
- SB 5941 – Clarifying requirements for subsidized child care. (Sign in Pro)
- SB 6018 – Designating early learning coordinators at educational service districts. (Sign in Pro)
Want to learn even more about the bills we’re following this session? View our bill tracker!
Priority Area Highlight: Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation
Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) refers to the emotional and mental health and wellness of very young children and their caregivers and families. IECMH Consultation partners mental health professionals with early childhood professionals to:
- Strengthen and support the efforts of families, child care providers and early childhood systems to promote the optimal social and emotional development of children; and
- Prevent, identify, and reduce the impact of mental health challenges for children and families
Our team at BrightSpark along with Child Care Aware of Washington and other early learning advocacy organizations is prioritizing advocacy for additional funding for our Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health program, Holding Hope. We are seeking $1.75 million/year (annually).
The Big Day is Almost Here!
We hope to see all of you in Olympia at Washington’s beautiful Capitol Campus for BrightSpark Advocacy Day on February 1st! Advocacy Day is open to all early learning community members, from families, parents, child care providers, and of course, children! All people who plan on attending need to register/reserve your spot by Monday, January 22nd. Please ensure you use the registration link for all adults who plan to attend Advocacy Day as well as indicate if you will be bringing any children!
If you’re planning to join us in Olympia, you can expect a morning check in, breakfast, and orientation before heading to meet your legislators. These fast-paced, 15 minute meetings are incredibly powerful moments for advocates to share directly with legislators and support early learning solutions that will lead to a more equitable system for families and providers across our counties and Washington state. You must register and let us know of your meal preferences and language needs to ensure we are able to support you and facilitate the best experiences. We cannot guarantee we will be able to do so if you do not register.
A few things to note:
- Boxed lunches will be provided beginning at 12pm in the Pritchard Building Cafeteria (415 15th Ave SW, Olympia, WA, 98501). If you have any dietary requirements, please indicate this on your registration!
- Translated materials will be available to ensure all advocates have the tools they need to be successful and confident. Please indicate what language translated materials you’d be best supported with on your registration.
- Remember to dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes!
Mobilization Corner: Ready to join us?
BrightSpark Advocates have been focused on the 2024 legislative session and are actively preparing for Advocacy Day! We recently hosted our Advocacy Day Logistics Training to share everything you need to “know before you go” to Olympia! The level of engagement, passion, and energy around advocacy was infectious and demonstrates the commitment this community has to improving the early learning system in Washington state and the power of creating those solutions from the voices who are most truly affected by the current inequities.
Meet your BrightSpark Advocacy Team!
We are here to provide you with the tools, opportunities, and experience so that you have everything you need to get involved in the legislative process. Your voice matters, and we want to help amplify your message! (Click on each name to email them directly!)
- Donny Willeto, External Affairs Officer
- Logan Endres, Policy & Advocacy Director
- Jaymie McLaughlin, Mobilization Coordinator
Getting involved with advocacy can feel a bit overwhelming – that’s why we are here to help! Check out these resources to learn a little bit more about how to advocate for the issues you and your community care about: