Property Tax for Seattle Preschool Program

Dedicated Funding Streams & Financing

  • Taxes

Seattle, Washington

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.


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.

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

Stable, robust funding is essential to expanding and improving early education. Unlike K-12 education, early education has historically been supported through a fragmented – and largely insufficient – set of federal, state, and local funds. Research suggests there is a need for more accessible, affordable, and high-quality approach to early education across the mixed-delivery system – and for better financial and professional supports for the educators who serve children and families each day; creating dedicated funding streams can therefore help states and cities address these needs and achieve these goals.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:

  • Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
  • But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.
  • No one early education setting type is inherently of higher quality than another; children develop and learn well in every setting type, and in the study, all setting types showed room to grow in quality.
  • Early educators play a critical role in supporting the well-being of young children and families across setting types.
  • Yet their pay, benefits, and other professional supports are often inadequate in light of the job demands and their cost of living.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about Seattle

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  • The city population is 733,919
  • The umber of children under age 5 is 4.60%
  • The median family income among households with children $198,300.00