Current Initiatives

DCYF is committed to providing accessible and culturally responsive pathways to enter and grow in early care and education roles. 

Fair Start for Kids Act

The Fair Start for Kids Act (FSKA) is a $1.1 billion investment of the Washington State Legislature to expand access to affordable, high-quality early learning for Washington families.

PD’s Components of the Fair Start for Kids Act

The PD Team holds two major components of FSKA that supports the early childhood workforce in order to advance the quality of child care in Washington.

Dual language is a form of education in which students are taught literacy, culture, and content in two or more languages.

Dual Language Designation is Coming Spring 2023!

The Fair Start for Kids Act directs DCYF to establish a Dual Language Designation for licensed or certified providers accepting state subsidy, ECEAP, and/or Early ECEAP.

To learn more about the designation, the benefits of a designation, including funding to enhance multilingual learning environments, visit DYCF’s Dual Language Learning webpage.

Under FSKA, the department is launching a comprehensive effort to grow trauma-informed and healing-centered supports for early childhood professionals.

Trauma-Informed Care is Fundamental

Positive relationships between children and adults are critical to creating the brain architecture to grow healthy social, emotional, and intellectual development. 

Four Rs in Trauma-Informed Care

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Four “R”s guide a trauma-informed care approach: Realize, Recognize, Respond, Resist.

A workforce that is knowledgeable about trauma:

  • Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands the potential paths for recovery
  • Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in children, families, staff, and others involved with the system
  • Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices
  • Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization

Trauma-Informed Care & FSKA

FSKA directs DCYF to provide trauma-informed supports to aid early childhood professionals, including; certified, licensed, and license-exempt providers, Early Childhood Education and Assistance (ECEAP) Program staff, and Early Achievers coaches.

FSKA Supports & Funding

FSKA supports include:

  • Compensation for individual staff who have an infant and early childhood mental health or other child development specialty credential
  • Trauma-informed professional development and training
  • Screening tools and assessment materials
  • Supportive services for children with complex needs

Trauma-informed supports will be made available for certified, licensed, and license-exempt providers, Early Childhood Education and Assistance (ECEAP) Program staff, and Early Achievers coaches.

External Advisory Group

Internal DCYF teams and Community partners from 10 agencies and non-profits met six times and guided strategies and planning for design and implementation.

Provider Input

Early learning providers attended a two-day (four hours total) session to make implementation decisions and share insights for additional supports.

Pyramid Model Planning Group

DCYF is working with Child Care Aware and University of Washington’s Cultivate Learning and the Haring Center  to implement Pyramid Model in licensed child care, beginning with a few sites in the Southwest Region of Washington. Learn more about Pyramid Model.

Tribal Collaboration 

DCYF attended the Indian Policy Early Learning Committee (IPEL) meeting in July to hear from IPEL members around what types of trauma-informed supports could be beneficial for American Indians and Alaska Natives in Washington State.

Questions about this effort? Email Jess Mayrer.

The Care & Education Workforce

Engaging in ongoing professional development opportunities to advance one’s knowledge or career are crucial. PD’s current initiatives aim to grow workforce: 

  • Knowledge about child and youth development.
  • Knowledge about trauma and the impact that both trauma and high-quality learning have on child development and life experiences.
  • Knowledge around challenging and uprooting racial inequities that will support Washington children and educational systems to advance racial equity and social justice.

What are equivalents?

Equivalents refer to the options providers have to meet licensing or other state program requirements related to staff qualifications, including education. WAC 110-300-0100 requires early learning providers to complete a certain amount of college education or equivalent for their role. DCYF offers several accessible and community-based opportunities to earn the required education or an equivalent. 

Why equivalents?

DCYF offers opportunities to meet the diverse needs of early learning providers and recognize the variety of ways professionals gain knowledge and skills to do their job.

What equivalent options are available?

  • Providers are eligible for this option if they had two years of experience recorded in Washington’s workforce registry, MERIT, as a licensed provider before Aug. 1, 2019, and have maintained up-to-date training requirements for their role.
  • Starting in fall 2021, early learning providers will be able to select this option in MERIT.
  • For more information, read Meeting Licensing Qualifications With Experience.
  • This training option is available in person and online. 
  • DCYF piloted this option in May – June 2021.
  • Expanded delivery will begin in January 2022. Providers can begin expressing interest in this option in fall 2021 by selecting this option in MERIT.
  • Read the community feedback summary that informed the development of the program: Community-Based Training Community Feedback.
  • Providers submit their completed degree, certificate, or another credential through an education application in MERIT. Education is then processed through the education verification program.

According to the Compensation Technical Workgroup Report (authorized SSB 5883 (2017), around half of Washington’s early childhood education workforce earns poverty-level wages and relies on public assistance to support their own families. This creates a greater reliance on state funds that are allocated to public assistance and support programs.

Child Care Collaborative Task Force

The Task Force was created by the Washington State Legislature in 2018 (SHB 2367) to develop policy recommendations to incentivize employer-supported child care and to improve child care access and affordability for employees. Legislation passed in 2019 (2SHB 1344) extended the task force and expanded its scope of work to cover additional topics, including compensating educators and evaluating recommendations from the Compensation Technical Workgroup Report (authorized SSB 5883 (2017). The Department of Commerce convenes this task force and collaborates with DCYF on the effort.

This work will culminate with an implementation plan to provide all children with affordable, accessible, and high-quality child care based on research and best practices – and is to include recommendations for compensation and benefits.

To learn more, visit the Washington State’s Department of Commerce Child Care Collaborative Task Force webpage.

Early math achievement is one of the strongest predictors of later school and life success. Yet, only 68% of children in WA are ready in math when they start Kindergarten, according to the WaKIDS assessment.

Update on this work

Since 2017, DCYF has been working with local and state partners in collaboration to establish strategies that can positively impact children’s early math development. 

Prior to COVID-19, DCYF completed a Landscape Analysis and Recommendations Report with partners. Review the full reports:

Partners worked together to establish key strategies and priorities, described in the Early Math Coalition Theory of Change

Since 2019, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has launched Washington Pyramid Model (WAPM) in 23 state-funded programs serving low-income children and those with disabilities.

WAPM has been implemented in 129 total programs, including preschool, transitional kindergarten, and child care. Most recently, in partnership with Child Care Aware of Washington, DCYF is supporting WAPM in 10 child care classrooms across three pilot programs in the southwest corner of the state. 

Further, to build capacity for a statewide WAPM expansion and to support social emotional learning and trauma-informed care in early learning classrooms, DCYF in 2023 supported 28 WAPM trainings. Four of those trainings were delivered in Spanish and three in Somali.

What is Pyramid Model?

Pyramid Model is a conceptual framework of evidence-based practices for promoting young children’s healthy social and emotional development. Learn more about Pyramid Model

Put it Into Practice

There are many learning opportunities already taking place that connect to the practices and strategies in Pyramid Model.

Programs can use this tool to consider how other trainings are connected:  Washington’s Pyramid Model Tool.

Early Achievers empowers providers and educators with resources to support each child’s learning and development to develop the skills they need to be successful in school and life. There is no cost to participate.

Professional Development supports educators and program success in all areas of quality. We collaborate with Early Achievers to provide or support training, coaching, scholarships, and other professional learning methods. The Professional Development team also leads the review of education, which is connected to the Professional Development Quality Standards and quality recognition process.

Early Achievers participants have access to a variety of resources and supports, including:

  • Training
  • Customized coaching
  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Tiered subsidy reimbursement
  • Quality Improvement Awards

Current System Improvement

The Early Achievers program is currently working on system improvements that include:

  • Virtual Quality Recognition
  • Multiple Pathways to Maintain and Reach Higher Levels of Quality
  • Enhanced Coaching Supports

To learn more, visit Early Achievers Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI).

Imagine U is a relationship-based mentorship program designed to increase the number of Licensed Family Home (LFH) child care providers in Washington. Imagine U pairs experienced and talented LFH child care providers with those interested in becoming licensed and offers both the mentor and intern support to help them grow professionally.

Imagine U Annual Accomplishments (FY 2021)

  • 75 new LFH child care providers became licensed and enrolled one or more subsidized children creating up to 900 new child care slots across Washington.
  • 99 Interns participated in Imagine U, with 98 completing the program and applying for their child care license.
    • 36% of interns participated in English, 33% participated in Spanish, and 30% participated in Somali.
  • 120 experienced LFH child care providers received training in peer-mentorship.
    • 41% of mentors participated in Spanish, 32% participated in Somali, and 27% participated in English.

Imagine U is administered by the Imagine Institute and funded by DCYF through the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Service Employees Union (SEIU) 925 and the State of Washington. To learn more about this program, visit the Imagine U webpage..

Washington’s Early Care and Education Substitute Pool supports licensed family home and child care center providers to have qualified workers for program coverage. The substitute pool helps to recruit and train substitutes throughout the state. Washington is the only state in the nation with such a robust, statewide substitute pool for licensed child care.

The Substitute Pool offers:

  • Training for substitutes to become fully qualified to work in licensed care.
  • Hourly wages to subsidize substitute time (as program eligibility and funding permits).
  • Private pay option for additional hours.
  • Workforce pipeline into licensed care roles.

The substitute pool has distributed 96,749 hours of substitute time and maintained a 95%+ shift fulfillment rate since July 2020.

About the Substitutes:

  • Currently, there are 680 approved substitutes statewide.
    • 54% of substitutes speak English, 26% speak Spanish, and 16% speak Somali. Substitutes also speak Amharic, Arabic, French, Oromo, Russian, and Tagalog.
    • Substitutes are located in 111 cities across 24 counties in Washington.

The Early Care and Education Substitute Pool is administered by the Imagine Institute and funded by DCYF through the Collective Bargaining Agreement for Family Child Care and other state resources.

To learn more about this program, visit the Substitute Pool.

DCYF’s State-Approved Training (SAT) Program helps professionals grow their knowledge and skills to improve and sustain quality practices in programs that serve children, youth, and families. Trainers may be employees with our partnering organizations or can offer training independently. The trainer approval process allows for trainers of different backgrounds and levels of experience to get started.

  • The SAT Standards capture the knowledge and skills trainers should grow. These were updated to include guidance on anti-bias and anti-racist approaches, virtual learning, and universal design for learning principles.
  • The Standards of Practice and Professionalism help state-approved trainers navigate the program.

The following priorities are informed by the SAT recommendations report that was completed based on feedback from trainers, training participants, training program administrators, and other members of our community.  

We will invest energy into:

  • Creating a professional development registry that has an easy-to-navigate trainer application and training-related processes.
  • Advancing racial equity and social justice through trainers and training content.
  • Diversifying the trainer workforce.
  • Increasing accountability that is objective and reliable.
  • Increasing monitoring that training content reflects the needs of our learners.
  • Providing trainers with access to support resources.

For more information about becoming a trainer, or the SAT program, visit DCYF’s Professional Development Strategies webpage.