The Complex Needs Fund Round 2 application is now closed. Awards will be announced in Winter 2023.

Child Care Complex Needs Fund

The Fair Start for Kids Act, passed by the Washington State Legislature in 2021, directs DCYF to create a Child Care Complex Needs Fund for child care. 

The fund is intended to promote inclusive, least restrictive environments and support providers serving children with developmental delays, disabilities, behavioral needs, or other unique needs.

Round 1 of the Complex Needs Fund opened on May 10, 2022 and closed on June 21, 2022. DCYF awarded $7.38 million dollars in funding to 131 applicants.

Round 2 of the Complex Needs Fund closed on November 10, 2022 at 11:59 p.m.

Who is eligible to apply?

The Child Care Complex Needs Fund is awarded through a competitive grant process. Submitting an application does not guarantee that an eligible provider will receive a grant award. Eligible applicants may only receive Complex Needs Funds once each state fiscal year. 

Eligible providers include:

  • Open licensed or certified child care providers
  • License-exempt Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) providers who have served at least one child on subsidy in four of the last six months or two of the last three months and claim for subsidy through the Social Service Payment System (SSPS) at time of application.

To be eligible, providers must have children currently enrolled in their care who have behavioral needs, developmental delays, disabilities, or other unique needs.

DCYF Child Care Complex Needs Fund Manual

Get more information about eligibility criteria and prioritization:

English | Spanish | Somali

If you are an Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) contractor, email to learn more.

How much can a provider apply for?

Provider Type Minimum Amount Maximum Amount
Licensed or certified providers $5,000 $100,000
Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) providers $100 $2,000

Once the application period has ended, grants will be scored and prioritized using the Complex Needs Fund Scoring Guide.

Based on data from the first round of applications, DCYF may adjust award levels and prioritization for future application periods.

Grant funds may be used for: Grant funds may not be used for:
  • Adding staff members or increasing current staff hours
  • Therapeutic services
  • Facility improvements to comply with ADA accessibility requirements or behavioral needs
  • Supportive and adaptive materials and equipment
  • Capital expenses such as major construction or renovation projects
  • Support to sites other than the licensed or certified site to which the funds were granted
  • Travel expenses including hotels, rental cars, airfare
  • Purchasing a vehicle
  • General operating costs
  • Review the list of ineligible items in the grant manual appendices

How does a provider apply?

All providers are required to have a WA Compass Provider Portal account before they can complete the Child Care Complex Needs Fund application.

Providers will log into the WA Compass Provider Portal, navigate to the Grant Information tab, select Current Grants, and select the DCYF Complex Needs Fund application. The provider will answer a series of questions and then submit the application.

Complex Needs Fund Application Preview and Question Guide

Preview the application questions:

English | Spanish | Somali 

DCYF Child Care Complex Needs Fund Manual

Get more information about accessing the application:

English | Spanish | Somali

DCYF Complex Needs Fund Application Step-by-Step Guide

Get more information about the application steps:

English | Spanish | Somali 

Where to Find Assistance

Technical and Language Assistance

DCYF strongly encourages all providers to utilize our technical assistance partners when applying for grants. Technical assistance can offer support in your language, guidance on preparing for and accessing the application, and help answering questions on spending and saving receipts. Please contact either the Imagine Institute or Voices of Tomorrow.

Application Questions

If you have questions about a grant application, the timeline of a grant, or other questions specific to these grants, email