Equity in Early Achievers

Early Achievers is committed to empowering early learning and child care program staff and leadership to provide high-quality care to all children and families regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation and to be the foundation of a first-class statewide early care and learning system. 

To ensure that this foundation is a solid one to build on for all children and families: 

  • We must commit to examining the effects of racism and other forms of oppression within our system.
  • We must learn from our communities and reflect on how Early Achievers perpetuates systemic oppression.
  • We must speak up where we see bias and act to create change as part of our ongoing state system quality improvement work and our commitment to all children and families.

Quality Improvement Plan for Racial Equity in Early Achievers

As a critical part in identifying how Early Achievers can create equitable change, our team worked together with our system partners to develop a Quality Improvement Plan for Racial Equity in Early Achievers. The Early Achievers team at DCYF gathered feedback from providers, stakeholders, families to develop this Quality Improvement Plan for Racial Equity in Early Achievers. We have three overarching goals, and there are action steps to help us reach each goal. When we have work in progress or completed, we will update this page to provide links and more information. We welcome all feedback as we strive toward continuous quality improvement.

  1. We will update our webpage to include an equity tab.
    1. We will share meeting agendas and notes on our website.
  2. We will be transparent in sharing processes and action steps related to equity. We will begin this by updating our website and through our revisions work and will share on an ongoing basis.
    1. We will use DCYF Strategic and Racial Equity Plan, a document created in collaboration with diverse partners and stakeholders, to inform our work, including revisions to the Early Achievers system.
    2. We will introduce, share our work, and invite feedback from the community and partners in various ways — calls, emails, webinars, and in-person when possible.
    3. We will work to build trust through a reparative lens, acknowledging our past mistakes and listening to ideas for improvement.
  3. We will share ideas and work that positively promotes and highlights the diversity within our system. We will begin this with our Early Achievers revisions in 2021.
    1. We will celebrate equity work and highlight diverse programs throughout the state using social media, including links to agency work and partner agencies.
  1. We will be present and accessible to all parts of our system and reach out to people that we do not hear from often or ever. We will begin this process with our Early Achievers Revisions work, and it will continue on an ongoing basis.
    1. We have an Early Achievers Values, Process, and Engagement workgroup that will work specifically on long-term engagement strategies. We will update our website with a long-term engagement plan as it is finalized.
    2. We will build on existing groups and relationships to ensure that we have consistent communication between all parts of our state's early care and learning system, including licensing, Early Achievers, Professional Development, ECEAP, and Head Start.
    3. We are committed to the ongoing use of Liberatory Design as we work on continuous quality improvement.
  2. We will have intentional, ongoing engagement around issues of equity with both internal and external partners. Several groups are already in place, and we will strengthen this work moving forward.
    1. We will create opportunities for coaches from across the Early Achievers system to participate in ongoing conversations with DCYF. This includes weekly webinars with opportunities for feedback and direct email communication from DCYF.
    2. We will be intentional with strategies for ongoing engagement and direct communication with early learning professionals, including a plan to diversify who we are talking to. These interactions will inform our ongoing quality improvement efforts, beginning with our Early Achievers revisions and continuing in a regular cycle of improvement.
      1. We will make a plan to engage with formed groups beyond those that we have established relationships with. We will particularly reach out to diverse community groups, such as regional Communities of Practice.
      2. We will make a plan to interact directly with historically marginalized communities, such as having one-on-one conversations with providers or attending community cafes led by community leaders.
Create an ongoing cycle to examine current systems for issues of inequity and make a plan to address findings.
  1. We will complete our long-term Early Achievers Revisions Cycle for Quality Improvement by Summer 2021.
    1. This plan must include the process to review this Quality Improvement Plan for Racial Equity in Early Achievers, our quality standards and practices, and our decision-making process, and be driven by stakeholder input. The plan will describe the process and timeline for ongoing cycles of improvement for Early Achievers and will live on the Early Achievers webpage.
    2. This plan will include an internal anti-racist audit of policies, procedures, resources, and tools. 
  2. We will create action steps related to our updated non-discrimination policy in the Participant Operating Guidelines by spring 2021
    1. We will examine repercussions to each part of our system, including leadership, trainers, coaches, and providers.
    2. We will coordinate with the Professional Development team to:
      1. Require professional development courses in anti-racist teaching and require that all professional development courses are created and taught with an equity lens.
      2. Provide training and guidance on disrupting racism in the moment.
      3. Ensure that trainers are using an equity mindset and provide action steps for trainers that do not.
      4. Create selection rubric and interview process for hiring trainers or “expert” speakers.
    3. We will review and update contract language to include anti-racist language.
    4. We will make an explicit plan to deal with racism and other forms of discrimination when it happens.

Current Engagement Strategies

  • We meet bi-weekly with our Aligned Provider Services Equity Advocacy Group. This is a group of employees from the DCYF Early Achievers team, Licensing Division, ECEAP team, and Professional Development team. The meeting agenda and notes are shared on the webpage. (see box on right side of this page)
  • We meet monthly with our Early Achievers Equity Advisory Group. This is a group of employees from across our Early Achievers system at DCYF, University of Washington, and Child Care Aware of Washington. The meeting agenda and notes are shared on the webpage. (Box on right side listing meeting agendas and notes)
  • We participate in stakeholder and partner committees, such as the Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) and the Indian Policy Early Learning (IPEL) Committee, to present updates and solicit feedback before decision-making.
    • Find out more about IPEL
    • Find out more about ELAC
  • We have representation from our team on the DCYF Inclusive Racial Equity Change Team (DIRECT). DIRECT is a group of employees from across DCYF working to lead, design, coordinate, and organize DCYF’s equity action plans and systems change efforts.
  • We periodically engage with other regional and state groups, including the Washington Child Care Center Association, Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP (WSA), and Early Learning Regional Coalitions (Washington Communities for Children).

Moving Forward

As we engage in the process of continuous quality improvement with providers, partners, stakeholders, families of young children, and community members, our goal is to recreate a quality recognition system that centers on equity and social justice. To learn more, visit our Continuous Quality Improvement page

Additional Resources that Inform our Work