Current Initiatives

DCYF is committed to providing accessible and culturally responsive pathways to enter and grow in early care and education roles. This includes how to meet education requirements and engage in ongoing professional development opportunities to advance one’s knowledge or career. 

A care and education workforce is:

  • Knowledgeable about child and youth development.
  • Knowledgeable about trauma and the impact that both trauma and high-quality learning have on child development and life experiences.
  • Able to understand and implement strategies to provide learning experiences and recognize, prevent, and reduce the effects of trauma on young children.
  • Intentional about 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.

Dual language/multilingual education is a form of education in which students are taught literacy, culture, and content in their home language and one or more other languages. This work originated with House Bill 1445, which passed in 2017, and is now guided by RCW 43.216.105.

Dual Language Workforce Development and Training

Dual language/multilingual education initiatives will develop and expand learning opportunities for the early learning workforce who work with children who are multilingual learners. This work includes collaboration with state and community agencies to develop and align policies and practices, curriculum development and delivery, and workforce preparation needs related to dual language learning. DCYF recently welcomed Athena Jiménez-Manalo to lead the efforts.

Dual Language and the 2021 Legislative Session

During the 2021 Legislative Session, the Fair Start for Kids Act passed, directing DCYF to establish a dual language designation for providers accepting Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) subsidy, and funding was provided to offer a subsidy rate enhancement or site-specific grant program for subsidy providers.

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.