- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The state will set up a pilot program to license outdoor preschool and child care programs under a bill signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Inslee signed the measure Thursday. Senate Bill 5357 passed with strong support in both chambers.

The legislation directs the state Department of Early Learning to set up a four-year pilot program to license full-time nature-based preschools or child care programs that operate primarily outdoors.

Starting in August, the agency will select up to 10 pilot locations throughout the state. Certain licensing requirements may be waived or changed to allow the outdoor schools.

Bill sponsor Sen. Kevin Ranker, an Orcas Island Democrat, says the legislation will help children get outdoors at an early age.

Supporters also say such programs provide affordable options for parents because costly brick-and-mortar classrooms aren’t required.

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