NCESD receives $87,600 grant for fostering collaborative partnerships that expand child care capacity in Okanogan County

WENTCHEE - The North Central Educational Service District has been awarded a grant of $87,600 to establish connections and offer ongoing learning and resources to Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) caregivers in support of positive long-term outcomes for Okanogan County children and families.  
This award is part of the Washington State Department of Commerce Child Care Partnership Grants program which has awarded funds across the state to develop community-based plans for expanding child care capacity.  
The North Central Educational Service District will partner with a number of community-based organizations in this work.  Partners include (listed alphabetically) the Apple STEM Network, Catholic Charities Serving Central Washington, the Coalition for Children and Families of NCW, Family Health Centers, North Central Washington Libraries, the Omak School District, the Tonasket School District, and the Wenatchee Valley College.
Dr. Michelle Price, Superintendent at North Central Educational Service District applauded the effort of all of the partners and said, “We are thrilled to have been awarded the Child Care Partnership Grant.   Family, friends, and neighbors play a critical role in the growth and development of the children they serve.  Partnering with community-based organizations to provide support and training for this vital group of caregivers will expand the skills and support system to positively impact the health, foundational skills, and well-being of children across Okanogan County.”  
While the entire North Central Region is impacted by significant childcare shortfalls, this project will focus primarily on supporting informal Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) caregivers in Okanogan County, for whom there are substantially fewer educational and community resources available, and for whom there are often more significant barriers to accessing those resources that are available. Local listening sessions and conversations with community stakeholders identified the primary type of childcare was informal FFN care. There is a notable absence of childcare centers per capita across the rural and remote region. This has likewise, limited the investment in professional learning opportunities in the region for informal caregivers. Informal caregivers, properly developed and reinforced, could grow to meet the greater regional need if systemic foundational supports were available. 
Early learning has a profound impact on many foundational skills: learning, relationships, social-emotional health and wellness, and brain development. Early learning practitioners in rural communities like North Central Washington, are most commonly Family, Friend and Neighbor providers.
FFN caregivers offer families quality, affordable, available, accessible, trusted, and caring options that notably oftentimes reflect the families’ own culture and values.
These are considerable advantages! Investment in the professional learning, and support, for FFN caregivers is a way to build on those foundational strengths and expand professional knowledge and skills to provide safe and developmentally stimulating environments.
The Washington State Department of Commerce Child Care Partnerships Grant will enable the North Central Educational Service District and its partners to:
Establish relationships with caregivers and regional partners
Offer opportunities for ongoing learning
Share best practices for developmentally appropriate care
Build a foundation for addressing ongoing needs of providers
Strategically expand child care capacity in rural communities
Increase accessibility of care for isolated families in Okanogan County
About North Central Educational Service District 
The mission of the North Central Educational Service District is to provide leadership and quality service in advocating for innovative educational programs for the children and communities we serve.  This is achieved through four fundamental areas of focus: Communication, Advocacy, Leadership, and Relationships.
Educational Service Districts (ESDs) were established at the state level as a vehicle to link local public schools with state and national educational resources. Initially established as Intermediate School Districts, or ISDs in 1969, ESDs have since evolved through a series of legislative directives that today serve 39 counties within Washington State. ESD programs allow districts to eliminate duplication of services, realize significant savings and receive special programs that might otherwise be unavailable to them.
As directed by Washington State law RCW 28A.310, ESDs are specifically responsible for:
Providing cooperative and informational services to local school districts,
Assisting the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and State Board of Education in the performance of the respective statutory and constitutional duties;
Providing services to school districts to assure equal educational opportunities for all students.
About Washington State Department of Commerce
The Washington State Department of Commerce’s mission is to strengthen communities in Washington.  They are the lead state agency charged with enhancing and promoting sustainable community and economic vitality in Washington. The Department of Commerce administers a diverse portfolio of more than 100 programs and several state boards and commissions, all focused on helping communities achieve positive growth.  Their key customers include businesses, local governments, tribes and community-based organizations. The Department of Commerce also plays the crucial role of convening numerous local, state, regional and federal partners and stakeholders, both public and private. Together they work to support the Governor’s priorities and achieve shared goals and objectives for the citizens of Washington.

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