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Woah, WA State-- this is big. Our state is applying to win a $60 million federal grant to back critical early child care and education programs.

But with only a few Race to The Top, Early Learning Challenge grants available to all 50 states, the competition between states to get this money is going to be fierce.

We have to be creative to bring funds into Washington State!

So instead of only including letters from muckity-mucks as is usually done for federal grants, this time our Washington state leaders are also going to include a letter signed by all of us!  That's right.  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and concerned citizens across Washington expressing their support for our youngest learners will be part of the official grant application. (Muckity-muck letters will still be included too.)

Sign on to our open letter to the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that reads: "We know Washington State is up to the challenge of making sure every young child in Washington is ready for success in school and life!"

Sign today and we'll include this open letter and your signature in Washington's grant application. Together we can make sure that every child in Washington has a great start!  We have a goal of 10,000 signatures so please share this link far and wide.

Why is the Early Learning Challenge grant so important to Washington State?

Let's face it.  Early learning and child care is expensive.  Like many new parents in Washington, I faced a challenge almost as tough as getting enough sleep: Finding affordable, quality child care and preschool.

In today's economy child care is often a necessity, but it's a very expensive necessity. On average, a year of preschool in Washington State is more expensive than fees and tuition for a public four-year college and child care for an infant is even higher. [2]

The current structure of early learning in Washington State is a patchwork system with variable standards and finding quality care is tricky.  And, we want to take on the federal goverment's challenge to build an accountable and sustainable early learning system where Washington State children can thrive.

Quality preschool and early learning programs are crucial--- and more than 85% of a child's core brain structure is formed by age 5. [3]  In addition to helping children's brains, early learning opportunities also saves taxpayer dollars.  Quality early learning programs have been shown to save money, reducing the need for remedial education, welfare, and criminal justice services.[4]

Getting an infusion of $60 million would jump start our Washington State goals of making sure every child can have a great start.  Help us get there: Sign our open letter today:

And please share this link with family, friends, neighbors and even strangers.  This opportunity is too great to pass up!

Together we are a powerful voice for Washington families.

P.S.  HUGE thanks to our numerous partners on this petition including the Early Learning Action Alliance.

[1] "WA aims for federal dollars to expand preschool," Seattle Times

[2] National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, "Child Care in the State of Washington 2011" report (PDF)

[3] Child and Family Policy Center and Voices for America's Children, 2004

[4] PreK Now, Pew Foundation

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