Gov. Inslee backs early learning program at Highline College

Children’s Home Society of Washington Highline Early Learning Center connects families with education

Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed $173 million to go toward early childhood education programs in the 2019-20 biennium budget, and on the heels of that proposal, he recently toured the Children’s Home Society of Washington Highline Early Learning Center.

During the Jan. 3 tour on the Highline College campus, Inslee said he had spent years working to get money for education programs like this. The tour group at the center saw several classrooms and outdoor play areas with a multitude of different setups to encourage learning and growth, including a full play kitchen.

Inslee supports policies that promote early childhood education, which he said has shown to be beneficial to both the child and the families that participate. He agreed with the important work Children’s Home Society does in the state when it comes to early learning programs.

Inslee said he believes 2019 has the potential to be the best early education year in the history of the state, which is why he’s proposed making a $173 million investment into early education.

“I’m proud that while I’ve been governor we have doubled the amount of children in early education,” he said. “And we know there is much more work to do.”

Children’s Home Society of Washington is one of the leading nonprofit children’s organizations in the country.

According to their website, the Rev. Harrison Brown and his wife, Libbie, started the organization in 1896 because they believed children should be able to live in homes rather than institutions: “Our mission today is to develop healthy children, create strong families, build engaged communities, and speak and advocate for children.”

The National Education Association reports that early education programs should be considered part of economic development initiatives. According to their website, “studies find that well-focused investments in early childhood development yield high public as well as private returns.”

One of the families benefiting from services at the Highline Early Learning Center is Krystina Cummins and her family of seven.

Cummins has one child going through the early learning program with Children’s Home Society, and she said without it, her family would not have been able to overcome several obstacles they were facing. For example, her youngest daughter is cross-eyed and has a heart condition, and with the center’s help they were able to get medical referrals for those issues.

Five of Cummins’ children have gone through some type of early learning education program, which has made a positive impact.

“You can see the difference in how they are in school now,” Cummins said.

Cummins said before her oldest son, DeJai Scott, was involved with the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), he had displayed very destructive behavior due to witnessing a traumatizing domestic violence situation when he was younger. After that experience, DeJai is now excited to go to school because of the consistency his teacher brings to his life in the classroom.

Her youngest child, also named Krystina Scott, is enrolled in Head Start with Children’s Home Society of Washington, which has allowed them to get the help they need — individually and as a family.

“She’s been able to receive speech therapy and get a 504 plan in place,” Cummins said, referring to a learning and behavioral plan designed to help the child grow and succeed.

Cummins is thankful for the personal relationship she’s been able to build with Children’s Home Society. Cummins said not only has CHS helped her youngest daughter with the medical referrals, but they’ve also helped her with her own growth and goals as well as her family goals.

“It takes a village,” she said. “Children’s Home Society, they come in and give you a sense of security for yourself. They are there to help you and encourage you and support you in any way you need it.”

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