Washington is eligible for up to $70 million over four years through the U.S. departments of Education and Health & Human Services as part of their preschool development grants. Washington has applied for an expansion grant to reach and serve additional eligible preschool children in high-need communities.
Since 1985, Washington has been operating the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), the state-funded comprehensive preschool program for eligible 3- and 4-year-olds. ECEAP ranks high on many quality elements, but most ECEAP slots are currently only part-day, and limited funding makes ECEAP available for only some eligible children.
The federal grant funding would offer Washington the opportunity to implement all the components of high-quality preschool named in the grant (see DEL's grant application summary for more details), and more than double the number of eligible children receiving high-quality preschool by 2019.
Despite a short six-week application window, DEL engaged in extensive outreach to inform the application, including:
- Webinars and a web page with information about the application process
- Individual conversations with key legislative leaders
- Meetings with early learning stakeholders and advocates
- Conversation with the state Early Learning Advisory Council
- An application review process that included readers from more than a dozen partner organizations include the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Child Care Aware of Washington, Thrive by Five Washington, the Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP, and several current ECEAP contractors.