What is the Fair Start for Kids Act?

The Fair Start for Kids Act is a $1.1 billion investment to make child care and early learning more affordable for Washington families by expanding access, capping copays, and providing resources to support child care and early learning providers.

The changes made under the Fair Start for Kids Act will help create an integrated system of child care and early learning in Washington State that is accessible, affordable, and in which providers and child care workers can have the support they need to provide quality care.

The Fair Start for Kids Act improves early learning for all by:

Improving Affordability

Improving affordability means capping copays through Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) so that:

  • A family of four will pay no more than $115 a month in child care copays if they have a combined income of $64,248 a year or less
  • That same family will pay no more than $90 a month if their combined income is less than $53,544 a year

Improving Accessibility

In 2021 and 2022, expanding access means:

  • A bonus for child care providers to provide care during non-standard hours 
  • More pre-k slots and converting slots for Washington ECEAP
  • Expanded Washington home-based services offered to expectant parents and families with babies and young children

Improving Quality

High-quality child care keeps children safe and healthy, and fosters the development of skills they will need in school and later in life. DCYF is supporting the workforce who care for and teach young children through:

  • Expanded trauma-informed care supports to aid early childhood providers
  • Expanded language access efforts to support Spanish and Somali speaking providers
  • Established a Dual Language Designation for licensed or certified providers accepting state subsidy
  • New consultants in infant and early childhood mental health

Supporting Providers

DCYF is distributing new grants to early learning providers, including:

  • $360 million in Child Care Stabilization Grants to help providers remain open and able to care for children
  • $5.1 million in Early Childhood Equity Grants to promote inclusive, culturally responsive learning and enhanced language access, with a focus on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and providers
  • $9.6 million in Complex Needs Funds to further support care for children with developmental delays, disabilities, behavioral needs, or other unique needs

"The Fair Start for Kids Act has truly made an amazing difference in my life."

Jessica Heavner
accountant and mother of three, Federal Way, in an article for Crosscut

What’s Coming in 2022-2023

By June 2023, DCYF will:

  • Add additional pre-k slots through ECEAP
  • Fund the expansion of therapeutic care and specialized treatment for children and families furthest from opportunity
  • Implement the dual language rate enhancement and trauma-informed care supports