Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program

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The Legislature and the Department of Early Learning (DEL) have made some recent changes to the Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program that are causing some confusion among school districts, other early intervention providers, ESDs, local lead agencies, and others. This letter intends to clarify the new ESIT laws and rules.

In 2016, SB 5879 confirmed DEL’s role as the lead agency for the ESIT program, and gives DEL rulemaking authority: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2015-16/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Laws/Senate/5879.SL.pdf.

SB 5879 also required DEL to complete a study of the fiscal aspects of the program in coordination with the provision of data from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), and a plan for a new structure to be delivered to the Legislature in fall 2016. The study was completed, a plan was drafted, and a document showing which elements of the plan would be going into effect on which timelines is available here.

Following the intent of the Legislature, DEL went through a public rule-making process and established rules regarding allowable allocations, expenditures, and revenue sources in January 2017, which is available here: https://del.wa.gov/providers-educators/early-support-infants-and-toddlers-esit.

Key elements of these rules include:

  • Explicit requirements for the use of ESIT (Program 22) funds.
  • Limitations established by DEL on the administrative and indirect costs for pass-through or provision of services that can be charged to the program.
  • Requirements that providers (including school districts) bill for all allowable early intervention services within the parameters established by the current rules. 

Consistent with SB 5879, these rules are in effect now, and all contracts with providers must reflect implementation of these rules. DEL intends to review contracts between districts and providers, and will enforce the WAC appropriately through mechanisms established by DEL.

During this 2017 session, OSPI expects legislative appropriations language that asks DEL as the lead agency to work with OSPI on the funding implications of the possible transfer of the funds from OSPI and school districts to DEL as proposed in the DEL ESIT plan that was submitted to the Legislature. Assuming such language is included in the final appropriations budget, and NO legislation is passed to transfer the ESIT funds to DEL, state ESIT funds will continue to flow from the legislature to OSPI to school districts and school districts are still required to provide or contract out ESIT services as required in RCW 28A.155.065 consistent with the rules (and funding limitations) adopted by DEL in January of 2017. The proposed funding shift and removal of the current requirement for school districts to serve or contract for services to infants and toddlers aged 0–2 will occur only when  RCW 28A.155.065 is amended by a future Legislature.

Superintendent Reykdal and Director Hunter, at the direction of the Legislature, will work together in summer 2017 to propose a range of ideas for how this program will be financed in the future.  If you have any questions, please send them jointly to Kathe Taylor at OSPI and Frank Ordway at DEL, who will work together on interagency responses. Kathe Taylor may be reached at 360-725-6417 or email kathe.taylor@k12.wa.us, and Frank Ordway may be reached at 360-725-4919 or email frank.ordway@del.wa.gov.  

Thank you.

Michaela W. Miller, Ed.D., NBCT                                                                                                                        

Deputy Superintendent

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)

600 Washington Street SE | Olympia, WA 98504-7200

P.O. Box 47200 | Olympia, WA 98504-7200

Office: 360-725-6343 | fax: 360-753-6712 (NEW)| tty: 360-664-3631



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