In 2006, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) launched the Early Learning Initiative (ELI), a 10-year strategy for improving the school readiness of Washington State’s children. To achieve this goal, BMGF is engaged in a statewide public-private partnership to implement the initiative’s three main components:
1. Development of in-depth, high-quality, community-wide early learning initiatives in two demonstration communities in Washington State
2. Enhancement of statewide systems that support early learning
3. Support for implementation of promising practices in Washington State communities
Public-private partnership is central to BMGF’s strategy for achieving these goals. In 2006, as momentum for supporting early learning was building throughout the state, BMGF joined with other private funders and state officials to form Thrive by Five Washington: The Washington Early Learning Fund (Thrive). In tandem with the formation of Thrive, BMGF identified two Washington communities to serve as demonstration sites—White Center, an unincorporated area just outside Seattle, and East Yakima, a community in central Washington. After BMGF made its selection, groups of community stakeholders in each location identified the Educational Service Districts (ESDs) that serve these communities—Puget Sound ESD in White Center and ESD 105 in East Yakima—to serve as intermediaries for ELI planning and implementation.
This report, the second in a series of analyses of ELI implementation in the demonstration sites, examines the East Yakima community at baseline and the ELI planning process that took place there in 2006-2007. The report is based on three main data sources: (1) a baseline site visit to East Yakima in September 2007; (2) a network survey fielded in conjunction with the site visit; and (3) observations of licensed child care settings, center director/family child care provider interviews, and lead teacher surveys conducted between August and November 2007.