Washington State House Democrats


Week 6 Legislative Update from Rep. Farrell

Dear Friends:

Last week was another busy week in the legislature, but also a week with moments of reflection and remembrance. On February 13, members of the House and Senate joined together for a Joint Legislative Session in the Senate chambers to honor former legislators who have passed away in the last two years. One of those honored was Sen. Scott White, who passed all too soon. I know all of us who represent the 46th Legislative District work hard every day to honor his memory and his service. It was a time to contemplate the history of our institution and the men and women who have served here.

Protecting our children and giving them the opportunity to succeed

HB 1203 Speech
Testifying for House Bill 1203 this Monday

As a mother of two young children, education – from birth through college – is something that I’ve been working on this session. Here is some information on how I am working to keep Washington State a place where every child has a chance.

This Monday morning, I was very proud to pass my first bill out of House. House Bill 1203 is a simple piece of legislation designed to close a loophole that exposed our children’s private information to public records requests. It was quite a thrill to pass my first bill – and protect our children at the same time!

Our state is a recognized early learning leader. We understand the critical importance of a child’s earliest years in terms of brain development and later academic success. Research has shown that 85 percent of brain development occurs by age three, and 92 percent by age five. When a child enters Kindergarten, the vast majority of brain development has already taken place.

This means the earlier we focus our early learning efforts, the better. In fact, why not start at birth?

One bill under consideration would do just that. The goal is to help parents and caregivers give children the best possible start in life, and ensure each child is ready to learn by the time he or she enters Kindergarten.   Called the “Early Start” proposal, the bill would:

  • Build a high quality birth-to-five continuum of services over time. We’ve been directing our state’s early learning efforts mainly at pre-K programs for three- and four-year-olds. Early Start would encompass everything from home visiting services to preschool, culminating with the WaKIDS Kindergarten assessment.
  • Carefully target resources on strategies that yield high results and give us the best bang for our buck.
  • Blend our already-existing programs – including parent education, the Early Child Education Program and the Working Connections Child Care program – to provide high-quality, all-day early learning opportunities for low-income children, and improve the quality of care for all children.
  • Include an expansion of home visiting services for parents facing serious challenges, to help them get their children off to the best possible start.  Home visiting programs have been shown to cut incidences of child abuse and neglect in half.

A related, complementary bill that I’ve prime sponsored, would expand the Working Connections Child Care program, which helps low-income parents who are working or actively seeking employment afford child care. It would also help improve access to early learning programs offered by many childcare providers, so children would have opportunities for learning versus simply “child care.”

Keep in touch

Our first bill cut-off is coming up this Friday – if a bill hasn’t been passed out of its policy committee by Friday night, it’s dead for the year. Make sure you let me know if there are any bills you are really passionate about – send me an email at jessyn.farrell@leg.wa.gov, and make your voice heard.

All the best,