There are more choices for early childhood education, care, and assistance which are not overseen by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).
Department of Social and Health Services
The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) offers many programs for parents affected by temporary situations such as loss of a job, and local school districts provide free preschool services for children with developmental delays.
Crisis Respite Care
Crisis respite, also known as “crisis nurseries” provide temporary respite for families experiencing challenging life circumstances when no other safe child care options are available. Created to provide immediate stress relief for parents and caregivers in times of crisis, care provided by most crisis respite can be accessed any time of the day or night and is offered free-of charge.
Crisis nurseries offer a safe, stable place for children when families are overwhelmed and need help. They may also offer outreach, support and training to families to prevent child abuse and neglect and help families offer safe and nurturing home environments.
Crisis respite providers in Washington include:
- Margie's Crisis Nursery, serving Mason, Lewis, Thurston Counties: 360-786-8907
- Safe Families Western WA, serving King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston, and Skagit Counties: 1-877-341-7332
- Safe Families Eastern WA, serving Spokane County: 1-844-244-1769
- Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in Spokane: 509-535-3155
Local school districts offer free preschool to some children with special needs. Certified special education teachers, speech therapists, and other staff will help your child learn skills that will help them enter kindergarten ready to succeed.
If you aren't sure whether your child will qualify for a developmental preschool program, your local school district can provide a screening at no cost to you. Contact your neighborhood school to learn about the services in your area.
Private Preschools or Kindergartens
Private preschools or kindergartens offer primarily educational curriculum for no more than four hours per day. DCYF does not license or oversee private preschools. However, some private preschools and kindergartens are certified with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
A private preschool that operates more than four hours per day is subject to child care licensing and DCYF oversight. Some licensed child care providers may also offer kindergarten curriculum. You can learn more about these programs by searching Child Care Check.
Other programs may be accredited through their particular program approach, such as Montessori or Waldorf programs.