Policy Strategies & Innovations Link copied!

Innovation Name Innovation Type Innovation Subtype Features at a Glance Strategy Summary
Child Care Facilities Grants Expansion Physical Space and Facilities

Ongoing funding

In 2021, in an ordinance related to its COVID-19 response, Seattle created a new fund and amended its 2021 budget to allocate funds specifically for child care capital improvements. Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery funds were established under the American Rescue Plan Act to help households, businesses, and nonprofits in communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The Human Services Department provided up to $5 million of these funds and up to $1 million in Community Development Block Grant funding to increase licensed capacity in preschool and child care facilities across the city. Eligible providers could apply for grants between $10,000 and $2 million; they were required to have experience serving children from birth to 5 years. Eligible activities for the grant include construction, renovation, or rehabilitation of facilities that increase the licensed capacity of direct service delivery space; and construction of new facilities that expands licensed capacity to serve children, either from the ground up or by substantially remodeling existing buildings. Awards were first issued on September 9, 2022, and will continue until December 31, 2024.

Learn More: Seattle Child care facilities grant

Seattle Department of Human Services. (n.d.). 2022 Child care facilities fund RFP.
Seattle Department of Human Services. (2022). Question and Answer 2022 Child Care Facilities RFP.
City of Seattle. (2021). Ordinance 126371.

Seattle Sweetened Beverage Tax Dedicated Funding Streams Soda Tax

In fiscal year 2020, the tax generated almost $5 million to support early ed programs

In 2018, Seattle instituted a 1.75 cents per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which benefits multiple municipal programs, including the Seattle Preschool Program. In FY2020, the fund produced almost $5 million to invest in early learning and child development programs.

Learn More/Source: Seattle Sweetened Beverage Tax
Property Tax for Seattle Preschool Program Dedicated Funding Streams Property Tax

Tax contributes roughly $6.8 million per year toward the Seattle Preschool Program

In 2014, Seattle voters passed a referendum to increase local property taxes to provide dedicated funding for the Seattle Preschool Program. The tax increase allocates 11 cents of every $1,000 in assessed value to fund the program. The measure was sent to a wider vote in 2018, where it passed to secure funding for 7 more years. The tax contributes roughly $6.8 million per year toward the preschool program.

learn more: Seattle property tax referendum


Seattle Times. (2018). Seattle City Council sends $600 million-plus education levy to November ballot
Seattle Office of the Mayor. (2018). Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy Fact Sheet.
Seattle Office of the Mayor. (2018). Mayor Jenny Durkan Statement on Voters’ Approval of Her Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise Plan.

Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) Infrastructure Systems Administrative + Governance Models

Department facilitates collaboration across public schools, government agencies, and community-based organizations

Seattle's Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) was created to support the educational and developmental needs of children in Seattle from birth to postsecondary programs. DEEL is responsible for leadership, direction, policy development, interdepartmental and interagency communication and coordination for early learning programs and education programs and policies and serves as the city's higher education liaison. It works in partnership with the Seattle School District No. 1 (Seattle Public Schools), the Seattle Colleges, government agencies, and community-based organizations.

DEEL's nationally recognized Seattle Preschool Program (SPP) provides universal access to preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. The program has grown from serving 280 children in 2015 to more than 2,130 children during the 2022–23 school year, with 75 percent of children attending at no cost. With 138 classrooms across 90 sites, 76 of which are operated by community-based providers, 36 by Seattle Public Schools, and 26 by family child care providers, SPP offers culturally responsive curricula to a diverse population of children and families. DEEL’s Early Learning division also oversees the city’s Child Care Assistance Program and has provided essential supports to stabilize the child care industry during the pandemic with the goal of strengthening the city’s early learning ecosystem.

Learn more: Seattle Department of Education and Learning

Source: Office of the Mayor (2022). Seattle Preschool Program Expands for 2022-2023

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Demographics Link copied!

City population

749,256 Source U.S. Census, 2022

Persons under 5 years old

4.60% Source U.S. Census, 2022

Poverty levels: Children 0-8 below 200% poverty

15% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Median family income among households with children

$198,300.00 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Unemployment rate

2.60% Source U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Unemployment rate of parents

24% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force

N/A Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Children living in households with a high housing cost burden

22% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Additional data coming soon!