The Early Childhood Equity Grant Application is now closed. Applications will be reviewed in July and August. Applicants will be notified of their status via email after the review is complete.

DCYF Early Childhood Equity Grant

The Fair Start for Kids Act, passed by the Washington State Legislature in 2021, directs DCYF to distribute funds to support inclusive and culturally and linguistically specific early learning and early childhood and parent support programs across the state. The funds are distributed through the Early Childhood Equity Grant program.

The Early Childhood Equity Grant helps support culturally responsive programming so that children have access to diverse care that meets their needs.

How does a provider apply for a grant?

The deadline to apply was June 30, 2023 at 5pm, and the application is now closed.

Timeline update

DCYF originally stated that there would be three rounds of applications for the Early Childhood Equity Grant (Summer 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023), and each round of applications would have $1.7 million available, for a total of $5.1 million. After carefully considering feedback from stakeholders and partners after the first round, we have decided to hold only one additional round of the grant this fiscal year instead of two. This means two rounds in total ($1.7 million was awarded in Summer 2022, and $3.4 million will be available in Spring 2023). This decision was made to allow more time for engagement in the refinement process, ensure that the grant meets its intended goals, and honor meaningful involvement from providers, stakeholders, allies, and government partners.

The remaining $3.4 million in funds for this period will be awarded during the second round of applications. We expect the second round of the Early Childhood Equity Grant to open in Spring 2023.

What else is changing?

DCYF spent winter and spring 2023 gathering feedback from providers, ally organizations, government to government tribal representatives, and other stakeholders.

We were excited by how much feedback we received, and are excited to present the following updates to the grant that we made in response to the feedback. For Round 2, the Early Childhood Equity Grant will have:

  • Reconfigured prioritization criteria
  • A grant readiness checklist
  • Categories for project outcomes
  • Updated budget categories
  • Lower minimum grant requests allowed
  • Additional questions about accessing assistance
  • New members on the Community Review Panel
  • More notifications about application status
  • A short survey for awardees
  • Some changes to ECEAP eligibility

All of these changes were made based on feedback received during Round 1 and the refinement process. For more details on the exact changes and the feedback that inspired them, please see our full Round 2 Refinements update here:

English | Spanish | Somali | Russian | Mandarin | Arabic

What happened in Round 1?

  • Round 1 application opened on June 28, 2022. The application was originally set to close August 16, 2022, but the period was extended until September 16, 2022.
  • DCYF’s budget for Round 1 was $1.7 million.
  • DCYF received 2,370 applications requesting over $100 million.
  • DCYF provided the application and materials in 6 languages: Arabic, Chinese-Mandarin, English, Russian, Somali, and Spanish.
  • DCYF checked applications for eligibility and completeness. DCYF removed applications for a variety of reasons, including: applications that requested funds for disallowed purposes, applications that were incomplete, and applications that requested funding outside the allowable range.
  • DCYF then prioritized applications according to prioritization factors developed in partnership with providers.
  • A community review panel reviewed the 65 highest priority projects. DCYF used the panel’s scores to select the applications to fund.
  • Round 1 total grant awards funded 34 applications, totaling $1.7 million: 22 Licensed Family Homes, 5 Child Care Centers, 2 ECEAP-Only Sites, 3 Play and Learn Groups, and 2 Family, Friend, and Neighbor caregivers.

Who is eligible for the Early Childhood Equity Grant?

Eligibility is open to:

  • Licensed, certified, or certified for payment only child care providers with an open license in good standing.
  • License-exempt Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) providers serving children receiving state subsidies.
  • Licensed ECEAP/Early ECEAP sites
  • ECEAP/Early ECEAP contractors
  • Play and Learn Group Host Organizations recognized by Child Care Aware of Washington (CCA of WA) and currently receive funding and/or direct programming support from CCA of WA to actively provide direct and virtual education and materials to parents and FFN caregivers. This is the result of a contractual agreement between CCA of WA and the State of Washington and applies to Play and Learn Groups.

Eligible applicants can receive an Early Childhood Equity Grant once every two years.

For licensed, certified, and license-exempt FFN providers: grants are awarded to a specific licensed facility/site, not a larger organization. Providers with multiple licensed locations will need to submit a separate application for each licensed site that qualifies to apply for a grant.

Unlicensed ECEAP sites may not apply for this grant. ECEAP/Early ECEAP Contractors may submit a single application with information on all sites included in their project.

Facilities that are both licensed and serving ECEAP slots may apply on their own. Licensed sites cannot receive Early Childhood Equity Grant Funding from both their contractor and directly from DCYF.

Play and Learn groups should submit a single application per host organization, with information on all sites included in their project.

When Can I Apply?

The grant opened on May 10, 2023. It closed at 5pm on June 30, 2023.

Where to Find Assistance

Technical and Language Assistance

If you need technical assistance, including assistance in your language, guidance on preparing for and accessing the application, or have questions on spending and saving receipts, please contact the Imagine Institute.

Other Questions

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