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

  • Recruiting Child Care Champions: We are convening industry leaders from across the state to advocate for comprehensive solutions in our child care system. Learn how you can get involved.
  • 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.
  • Story Time STEAM in Action / en Acción is a community project that focuses on supporting equity in early mathematics for children and families through story time programming and the use of shared reading experiences to support the development of early math skills.

Leveraging Data and Engaging in Advocacy

  • The new STEM by the Numbers dashboards track key indicators and systems inputs for early learning, K-12 and career pathways. The dashboards display, at the statewide and regional levels: Math Proficiency, FAFSA Completion rates, and Postsecondary Progress, including credential enrollment and completion.
  • State of the Children dashboard presents 2022 data on demographics, language, cost of care, and wage disparities from all regions across the state. This dashboard complements the regional and state-wide narrative reports.
  • State of the Children statewide and regional reports: 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 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.
  • Child Care Business Feasibility Estimator (“Estimator”) is an online calculator designed to help potential child care business owners understand the likely costs, revenues, and feasibility for their child care business idea.
  • 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.
  • 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
“Why STEM?”: The Case for a Strong Science and Math Education
By 2030, less than half of the new, entry-level jobs in Washington state will pay a family-wage. Of these family-wage jobs, 96% will require a postsecondary credential and 62% will require STEM literacy. Despite the upward trend in STEM jobs, science and math education is under-resourced and de-prioritized in Washington state.
The Co-Design Process: Research With, and For, Communities
The new State of the Children reports were developed in partnership with 50+ “co-designers” from across the state. The results highlight areas for meaningful policy changes while also incorporating voices of families with children often overlooked in the conversation about affordable child care.
"Why STEM?": Maria's Journey Through STEM Education
In this second installment of our "Why STEM?" blog series, follow "Maria" on her journey from preschool to postsecondary.