Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program

DCYF ECEAP commits to dismantling racism and building an equitable state-funded preschool system in Washington. Increasing our understanding of and capacity to address the deep-rooted impacts of bias and racism at every level is the highest priority for our team. We embrace equity as a foundation of and driving force behind our work by listening to and learning from families, contractor staff and communities. Driven by this commitment, we develop and revise systems, policies and practices, with the goal of eliminating disparities and transforming lives.

Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) is Washington's pre-kindergarten program that prepares 3- and 4-year-old children from families furthest from opportunity for success in school and in life. The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) oversees the program. 

Since 1985, ECEAP has focused on the well-being of the whole child by providing comprehensive services to Washington’s most at-risk young children. The program is aligned with nationally researched programs that have shown exceptional returns on investment.

Together with families, ECEAP providers and local communities, we ensure the growth of health, resilient children. We provide child-centered, individualized preschool education and health coordination services on a foundation of strengths-based family support for the specialized population we serve.

ECEAP services:

  • Increase social-emotional, physical and pre-academic skills.
  • Ensure each child receives medical and dental screenings so each child can fully focus on learning.
  • Help families move toward self-sufficiency and builds their capacity to support their children’s success. 

During the 2023-2024 school year, ECEAP is projected to serve more than 16,000 children at more than 480 locations across Washington state. DCYF administers ECEAP through 63 contracts with school districts, educational service districts, community colleges, local governments, tribal organizations, child care centers and homes, and nonprofits.

ECEAP Expansion

DCYF is working to ensure that 90 percent of children are ready for kindergarten, with race and income no longer predictors of readiness. To help achieve this goal, expansion of ECEAP services in communities across the state is occurring yearly until 2026-2027. By that time, the State Legislature has determined that “any eligible child shall be entitled to be enrolled” in ECEAP (RCW 43.216.556 (5).

Are you interested in starting or expanding ECEAP services?
Do you want to know more about how DCYF is planning on meeting expansion goals with partners in the state?

Cross-Agency Collaboration

DCYF ECEAP partners with other state agencies to carry out our shared work for children and families. The following are examples of this cross-agency collaboration and resources that directly affect or are tied to ECEAP services in communities across the state.

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)

OSPI and DCYF ECEAP work together on Transitional Kindergarten. Watch this Transitional Kindergarten Introductory Webinar on the OSPI website to learn more.

For more information about Transitional Kindergarten, contact:

Early learning resources offered by OSPI:

Department of Commerce

DCYF ECEAP partners with the Department of Commerce to implement the Early Learning Facilities (ELF) grant program. This effort demonstrates Washington State’s commitment to developing more high-quality early learning opportunities for children from low-income households. The program provides funding for ECEAP contractors and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) subsidy providers to expand, remodel, purchase or construct early learning facilities and classrooms.