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Capitol Courier: Let’s Review the Budget!

Capitol Courier: Let’s Review the Budget!

Today marks day forty out of sixty (40/60) of the legislative session. The Washington State House and Senate recently released their proposed state operating budgets and it’s our job to communicate the importance of maximized funding for the early learning and child care system. These budgets are tied closely to BrightSpark legislative priorities and determine state funding levels. Read on to see how BrightSpark’s priority asks were included in the budgets.

  • Infant & Early Child Mental Health Consultation (IECMH-C)
    • House budget: $1.75M increase to fund the program
    • Senate budget: $0

  • Infant Rate Enhancement
    • House budget: Increases rate from $90 to $180 beginning July 1, 2024. (Total investment: $2.674 million)
    • Senate budget: Increases rate from $90 to $300 beginning July 1, 2024. (Total investment: $5.551 million)

  • Nonstandard Hours Bonus
    • House budget: Increases bonus from $135 to $150 per child/per month  beginning July 1, 2024. (Total investment: $747 thousand)
    • Senate budget: Increases bonus from $90 to $300 beginning July 1, 2024. (Total investment: $3.582 million)

  • Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP) Rate Increase
    • House budget: Increases rates by 5% for full day and 9% for extended day care. (Total investment: $8.721 million)
    • Senate budget: Increases rates by 6% for full day and 10% for extended day care. (Total investment: $10.812 million)

In summary, we want to see a state operating budget that includes:

  • House funding levels ($1.75 million) for IECMH-C.
  • Senate funding levels ($5.5 million) for Infant Rate Enhancements.
  • Senate funding levels ($3.6 million) for Non-Standard Hour Bonuses.
  • Senate funding levels ($10.2 million) for ECEAP Rate Increases.

Now what?

If you want to get involved, you can contact your legislators to communicate your support for maximized funding for the above priorities.

Over the next few weeks, the BrightSpark Advocacy Team and many others will stay closely connected with legislative leaders as they work together to finalize a state operating budget. By communicating with your legislators as mentioned above, you can directly contribute to that work.

The last day of the 2024 legislative session is March 7. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at if you have any questions.

Advocacy Shout Out!

We wanted to give a huge shoutout to Mica Slater, BrightSpark’s Comprehensive Services Department Manager, for testifying on SSB 5950 (the Senate Operating Budget). Her comments expressed our deep gratitude to members of the Senate for making such bold investments into our legislative priorities with an emphasis to ensure they add funding for the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation program. Thank you for your leadership, Mica!

Mobilization Corner

Are you wanting to make sure that we have universal child care and thriving wages for all? BrightSpark Early Learning Services will soon be hosting cohorts representing various aspects of the early learning system: parents and families, child care providers, and businesses in our local community. Cohort members will contribute to an advocacy campaign working towards fully-funded, universally accessible child care along with funding thriving wages for providers. Between March-June 2024, cohort participants will network with fellow advocates, meet elected officials, and take part in advocacy and media training. Participant stories will become part of a larger story bank in support of massive improvements to Washington’s early learning system.

Registration for these cohorts will launch March 1st – Stay tuned and contact us if you’re interested.

Meet the 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!

  • Donny Willeto (she/her) joined BrightSpark in 2020 and serves as the External Affairs Officer overseeing Advocacy, Public Policy, Marketing, Communications, and Fund Development. Donny is excited to lead this team of amazing and driven advocates and mobilizers. Community centered work is Donny’s passion so being able to connect our early learning communities to decision makers aligns well with her 15 years of nonprofit experience.

  • Logan Endres (he/him) joined BrightSpark in 2023 and serves as the Director of Advocacy & Policy. Logan is a communicator and advocate with over nine years working in education and government systems. The 2024 session will be his first with the early learning sector. Logan believes in the power of civic engagement and works to support legislative outcomes that ensure equity and justice.

  • Jaymie McLaughlin (she/her) joined BrightSpark in 2019 and serves as the Mobilization Coordinator. Jaymie is looking forward to building on the continued momentum within early learning advocacy by drawing on the strengths of King and Pierce counties. Building relationships and connecting constituents to their elected officials is key to making us stronger together. Deconstructing the mystery of advocacy and building confidence in advocates is what she is most passionate about.


Engagement Toolkit

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: