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Resource Details

Initiative Name: 

Washington Statewide Expansion of Quality Rating and Improvement System




Child Care, Quality Improvement, Quality Rating Systems

Source Of Information: 

ZERO TO THREE Policy Center state updates



Year Started: 


Administered By: 

Department of Early Learning


Using a 3-phase roll-out from July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013, Washington expanded its voluntary quality rating and improvement system, Early Achievers, statewide. Early Achievers was developed with input and support from child care providers across the state over a two-year period. It is the expansion of a pilot program, Seeds to Success, that 90 child care providers in five communities participated in. The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is partnering with Child Care Aware Washington and the University of Washington to offer Early Achievers statewide.

Early Achievers rates the quality of child care and early education programs on a scale of 1 to 5. Licensed and certified child care providers are currently eligible to participate. From summer 2012 through April 2013, the Department of Early Learning (DEL) conducted a voluntary pilot project with Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program and Head Start providers (ECEAP/Head Start) to determine the best ways to incorporate these preschool programs into Early Achievers. All programs must meet the same foundational quality based on licensing/certification and Early Achievers readiness activities for levels 1 and 2 to be eligible for Early Achievers. These include attendance at an orientation, completion of a 6-course QRIS professional training series, and completion of a QRIS self-assessment. All program staff caring for children must also have an active professional record in Washington’s Managed Education and Registry Information Tool (MERIT). Once programs have achieved level 2, they can earn points to move up to levels 3-5.

Points are awarded in four areas:
• Child outcomes – up to 10 points
• Facility curriculum and learning environment and interactions
• Classroom/Family Child Care Home Environment (CLASS/ERS) – up to 55 points
• Curriculum, Learning and Assessment – up to 15 points
• Professional development and training – up to 10 points
• Family engagement and partnership – up to 10 points

Programs have flexibility in how they earn points, but they must meet minimum requirements for Environmental Rating Scales (ERS) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) scores to move to level 3. The point ranges for each level are:
• Level 3: 30-69 points
• Level 4: 70-90 points
• Level 5: 91-100 points

Participating programs are offered training, technical assistance, and coaching free of charge to help them make quality improvements. Professional development scholarships and quality improvement awards will be available to eligible facilities at later stages of participation. In September 2013, Early Achievers participants began receiving higher subsidy payment rates, called tiered subsidy reimbursements, which provide higher child care subsidy payments for programs that achieve higher Early Achievers ratings. Ratings for participating programs are posted on DEL’s website so that parents can use the information when making child care decisions.

Early Achievers is funded by the state’s 2011 Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant and the federal Child Care Development Fund.

More information about Early Achievers can be found on DEL’s website at
For a copy of the Head Start/ECEAP Reciprocity Pilot Project visit,

Updated December 2013


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