As 2015 begins, the Government Relations team is gearing up for an exciting year in state and national policy. You may have heard about the recent passage of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the federal funding that helps subsidize early education for low-income children. Our Vice President of Government Relations, Celia Sims, was instrumental in the passage of that Act – and continues to monitor the implementation as states begin to make changes. Some of those changes will be positive, and other changes will demand we exert our influence as the nation’s leading private early learning provider. Our work on federal policy helps shape what states decide to do over the coming years.
In the West, Kristine Evertz is developing strategies to maximize early education funding in key states. As governors begin to announce their budget proposals for this year, we are working to ensure early education is a priority. Building relationships with state agencies, such as Oregon’s Education Investment Board and the California Department of Education, is an important part of staying up-to-date on developments and also provides an opportunity for Knowledge Universe to be recognized as an industry leader for increased investments in high-quality care and education.
In our eastern states, September Jones is monitoring the development of new licensing regulations. When localities propose changes to current regulations, it is important for us to quickly assess the impact to our programming and develop a strategy to meet, exceed, or adjust standards. This can happen with little notice, such as the recent report card rating in Louisiana, or there may be a comment period where we can influence how the regulations are amended, as we are trying to do in Illinois.
Our Government Relations Manager, Elisa Shepherd, is busy identifying opportunities for our programs to lead the field in quality improvements by participating in, and influencing the development of, state quality rating improvement systems (QRIS). In keeping with our company goal of 100% national accreditation, Elisa is working with state programs such as Washington’s Early Achievers to identify opportunities where our continual improvement and dedication to quality can set the example for other programs. Her work with QRIS and state funded pre-k initiatives helps guide states in implementing a system that works for all providers and one that recognizes accreditation as an important indicator of high-quality care and education.
The Government Relations team is committed to following policy developments in all 39 states – so if you haven’t heard from us yet, get ready! Most states begin their legislative session this month; we are excited to see what new ideas our senators and representatives have for early education, and ensuring Knowledge Universe provides a strong voice for high-quality care and maximum access.