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||
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
|Dual Language Designation award||Workforce||Bonuses and Supplemental Pay Professional Learning||
Awards are approximately $2,700 per classroom or learning environment
Passed in 2021, the Fair Start for Kids Act invested $1.1 billion to enhance the child care system in Washington state by making care more affordable, expanding access, and increasing resources to support providers. To support providers and improve quality, the Act established the Dual Language Designation as a funding award for licensed or certified providers that accept state subsidies or offer Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) or Early ECEAP services. Programs must serve multilingual families and have at least one bilingual staff member providing instruction in English and a partner language, or be a tribal language revitalization program. Awards are given per classroom or per learning environment (about $2,700 each), and facilities can be awarded for up to 10 classrooms per year. The funding can go toward enhancing environments for multilingual children, such as wages for staff providing bilingual instruction, professional development and staff training, culturally appropriate curricula, and other instructional materials. A total of $2.8 million is dedicated to the Dual Language Designation programs through June 30, 2023.Learn more: Fair Start for Kids Act
Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families. (n.d.). What is the Fair Start for Kids Act?.
Washington State Legislature. (n.d.). SB 5237 - 2021-22.
|Health Care Coverage for Child Care Workers||Workforce||Benefits||
Health care coverage with $0 monthly premiums
Passed in 2021, Washington state’s Fair Start for Kids Act invested $1.1 billion to enhance the child care system by making care more affordable, expanding access, and increasing resources to support providers. As part of this legislation, eligible employees of licensed child care facilities can receive Cascade Care Silver health coverage with no monthly premiums through Washington Healthplanfinder. This opportunity is available for employees who:
This program is slated to end on December 31, 2023.Learn More: Washington Premium Assistance Program for Employees of Child Care Facilities
Start Early. (n.d.). Summary of the Fair Start for Kids Act Law.
|Early Learning Facilities Program||Expansion||Physical Space and Facilities||
The Early Learning Facilities program in Washington State offers $15 million in annual funding opportunities to support the expansion, remodeling, purchase, or construction of early learning facilities for children from low-income households. Eligible applicants include nonprofits, public entities, K-12 schools and districts, tribes, and for-profit businesses. Funding consists of competitive grants, direct appropriations from the State Legislature, and a grant and loan program. Grants are provided only for capital projects, such as acquisition, design, engineering, construction management, construction, and capitalized equipment costs. The State Legislature established the program via RCW 43.31.565 to 43.31.583. Direct appropriation projects receive awards through the capital budget.Learn More: Early Learning Facilities Program
|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
|Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families||Infrastructure Systems||Data Systems||
Created a new department of early childhood
In 2017, Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1661, creatingthe Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). DCYF oversees several services previously offered through the departments of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and the Early Learning (DEL). These include all programs from the Children’s Administration in DSHS such as Child Protective Services’ Investigations and Family Assessment Response, licensed foster care, and adoption support. Also included are all DEL services, such as the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program for preschoolers, Working Connections Child Care, and Home Visiting.Learn more: Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families
|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
|Washington Opportunity Pathways Account||Dedicated Funding Streams||Lottery Revenue||
In fiscal year 2022 the lottery contributed $40 million to the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program
In 2010, the Washington State Legislature created the Washington Opportunity Pathways Account, ensuring that lottery revenue would support education, from early childhood through college. One part of the account funds the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP); ECEAP provides programming for children ages 0-5 whose parents meet eligibility requirements. In fiscal year 2022, the lottery contributed $40 million to the ECEAP program.Learn More: Washington's Lottery: Who Benefits?
|Washington Education Research and Data System||Infrastructure Systems||Data Systems||
P-20 Longitudinal Data System
Since 2007, Washington State’s Office of Financial Management’s Education Research & Data Center (ERDC) has hosted the state’s P-20 longitudinal data system, which includes data on preschool programs and early intervention services. The system functions as a warehouse and identity-matching process across state agencies, including the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and the State Board of Education. It links demographic, program, and individual data ranging from early childhood education and care to K-12/higher education to the workforce. The individual data is deidentified with a unique identifier to create cross-sector data sets. Data is available by request for authorized users. The ERCD can create data files, analyze data, conduct cross-sector research, and support data collections.
The system began in 2007 with the founding of the Governor’s P-20 council and further defined through legislation (RCW 43.41.400). The system expanded in 2009 and is funded by federal grants, including Statewide Longitudinal Data System grant and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant.Learn More: Washington Education Research and Data Center
|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
Demographics Link copied!
7,785,786 Source U.S. Census, 2022
24.4% Source U.S. Census, 2020
75.6% Source U.S. Census, 2020
Number of children age 0-4
490,808 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Poverty levels – children 0-8 below 200% poverty
30% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Median family income among households with children
$102,100.00 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
3% Source U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2022
Unemployment rate of parents
3% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force
68% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Children living in households with a high housing cost burden
27% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Child population by race and ethnicity Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Race and Ethnicity
- American Indian and Alaska Native (1%)
- Asian (8%)
- Black or African American (22%)
- Hispanic or Latino (4%)
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (1%)
- Two or More Races (9%)
- White, not Hispanic or Latino (52%)
Political Landscape Link copied!
Early Childhood Education Programs Link copied!
Public pre-K program name
Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) Source: NIEER 2023
Public pre-K program name
Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Source: NIEER 2023
Universal or targeted pre-K policy
Targeted Pre-K Policy (3- and 4-Year-Olds) Source: NIEER 2023
Universal or targeted pre-K policy
Targeted Pre-K Policy (4-Year-Olds) Source: NIEER 2023
Percent of 3-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2023
- 3-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (6%)
- 3-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (5%)
- Other/none (89%)
Percent of 4-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2023
- 4-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (13%)
- 4-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (5%)
- Other/none (82%)
Workforce Link copied!
2017–2019 Median Hourly Wages Source CSCCE 2018, 2020
- Child care workers
- Preschool teachers
- Preschool or child care center directors
Funding Sources Link copied!
Federal and State Early Childhood Education Funding (in millions) Source First Five Years Fund, 2022
- Head Start and Early Head Start Funding ($200.8)
- CCDBG & Mandatory Funds ($171.4)
- CCDBG State Match ($29.8)
- CCDBG COVID Relief Allocations – CARES, CRRSE, ARPA (CCDF & Stabilization) ($853.7)
- State-Funded Pre-K ($150.4)
- MIECHV ($10.1)
- IDEA Part C ($15.2)
- IDEA Part B, Sec 619 ($12.9)
- TANF Early Learning and Care Expenditures ($201.9)
- Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five ($14.5)
The COVID Funding Cliff
All federal COVID relief allocations, including funding authorized by the CARES, CRRSE, and ARPA bills, must be fully spent by September 2024. An analysis from the Century Foundation shows this loss of funds could cause more than 3 million children to lose access to child care nationwide – including more than 58,000 children in Washington.