The Washington State Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), announced $43.2 million in grants for 69 early learning projects across the State.
This includes $1,000,000 for Learn to Grow in Montesano and $1,000,000 for DJH Kids and Community Center in Ilwaco.
According to a report, this local funding will provide 115 new spaces for Grays Harbor and 66 in Pacific County. Both local projects fall under the New Construction / Major Renovation category.
Grants provide financial assistance to enable Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) contractors and Working Connections (WCCC) child care providers to plan, expand, redevelop , purchase or build early learning facilities and classrooms.
“Early learning is a vital part of the state’s critical infrastructure for families and our economy,” Commerce Director Lisa Brown said. “This investment in our state’s facilities will help communities ensure that safe, secure, and stable early learning opportunities are available to everyone. This is essential for an equitable recovery of the state’s economy and families, and is essential to help ensure success for children.
Commerce’s partnership with DCYF underscores the importance of child care and early learning opportunities for all Washington families, businesses and communities. Most importantly, access to high-quality early learning opportunities contributes to kindergarten and school readiness and healthy child development. This is a pedagogical issue, and an economic issue: the research of the Washington Child Care Collaborative Task Force in 2021 indicates that lack of access to affordable child care is keeping more than 133,000 potential workers out of Washington’s workforce, resulting in an estimated $14.7 billion less in income personnel and over $1 billion in lost tax revenue each year.
“Communities are stronger when there is enough access to high-quality early learning for all children, regardless of family income,” said Ross Hunter, Secretary of the Ministry of Children, Youth and Family. “The Legislature has wisely invested in the buildings and classrooms necessary to provide this level of care. I am delighted that the strong partnership between DCYF and the Department of Commerce continues to help ECEAP contractors and Working Connections child care providers expand access to care.
Funded facilities are located throughout Washington State and serve diverse populations in rural, suburban, and urban communities to create early learning opportunities for children in all regions of the state.
Commerce awarded projects in three categories: pre-design ($20,000 award limit); minor renovation and pre-development (award limit of $200,000); and new construction and major renovations (award limit of $1 million). In making award decisions, Commerce and DCYF assessed key project criteria such as number of early learning spaces for children from low-income families, location of the project relative to other early learning institutions and projects located in rural areas and low-income neighborhoods, among other factors.
To visit Early learning facilities on the Commerce website to learn more about the grant program.