Math thinking starts at birth.

We want to make sure all kids develop STEM confidence and positive math identity.

Math thinking starts at birth.

We want to make sure all kids develop STEM confidence and positive math identity.
Soleil Boyd, PhD, Senior Program Officer


90% of brain development occurs before kindergarten, and access to high-quality early learning is one of the best investments we can make for young children.From increased school readiness to ongoing academic and social and emotional outcomes, the research is clear that the learning and support a child receives during their beginning years will have dramatic impacts when they go to school and later in life.

Early learning happens in the home, community, and for many children, in early care and education settings. Right now, however, only 51% of children have access to the early care they need. Our focus on early learning systems in Washington is centered on how to ensure young children have equitable access to high-quality early care and STEM experiences that will help them thrive in life.

Early mathematics learning is especially important because it is predictive of later learning outcomes. Children who start strong in math, stay strong in math, and outperform their peers in literacy too. The goal is to ensure that every child in our state has consistent access to opportunities for joyful and engaging STEM learning.

What We’re Doing

Investing in Promising STEM Practices

  • STEM Networks: We partner with ten STEM Networks across the state to identify local solutions that center community priorities. Early STEM programming and systems-level work is tailored in partnership with communities to ensure children, families, and educators have access to inspiring STEM learning opportunities and resources.
  • StoryTime STEM: Launched in 2020, Story Time STEM (STS) is a research partnership between Washington STEM, the University of Washington Bothell School of Educational Studies, and Puget Sound area public library systems. STS focuses on supporting equity in early mathematics for children and families through story time and community collaboration. For community-created programming inspired by Story Time STEM, check out Story Time STEAM in Action/en Acción.  

Story Time STEM (STS) models the use of shared reading experiences to support the development of early math skills. Explore the available modules to learn more.

Leveraging Data and Engaging in Advocacy

  • Family Friendly Workplace Regional Reports: Each year, the lack of child care costs Washington businesses over $2 billion dollars in lost revenue. The Family Friendly Workplace regional reports provide data and recommendations to help employers lower absenteeism and make their workplace family-friendly.
  • Developing Regional Reports: State of the Children: In partnership with Washington Communities for Children, we’ve created a region-by-region, in-depth look at the state of our early learning and child care systems. The State of the Children: Early Learning and Care reports highlight data and information on the economic impact of child care on families and employers, the availability of and access to critical early childhood education, and more.
  • Advocacy: We work in coordination with early learning policy and advocacy partners, including the Early Learning Action Alliance (ELAA) and others, to advance priorities focused on accessible and affordable early care and education, high-quality early learning, and systems alignment.
  • Interactive Data: In partnership with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), we created the Child Care Need and Supply Data dashboard. This tool reflects the current state of Washington’s child care capacity and demand and meets the need for regular, up-to-date data on child care and preschool needs in local communities.
STEM STORIES See All Stories
Washington STEM 2022 Legislative Recap
For Washington STEM, the 2022 60-day legislative session was fast-paced, productive, and characterized by collaboration with educators, business leaders, and community members from across the state.
Washington State Early Learning & Care: Where Historic Underinvestment Meets National Health Crisis
Washington state's child care and early education systems were already in crisis before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that these systems have been further strained, what can be done to bolster and reimagine early learning to provide the high-quality care and positive learning interactions children need for positive outcomes in school and beyond?
The State of the Children Report Series: From Insight to Action
In partnership with Washington Communities for Children, we're proud to release the State of the Children: Early Learning & Care report series, which provides an in-depth looks at the health of our early learning and child care systems.