DCYF allocated $4.6 million to 36 of 61 ECEAP and Early ECEAP Contractors for the 2021-22 school year through the Complex Needs Fund. This resulted in an additional 78 contractor sites receiving support through this funding. The additional financial support helps to reduce the disruption of early learning supports and increases positive experiences for children, families, and staff.
This is the second year this funding has been available to ECEAP contractors. In 2021, the Washington State Legislature designated ECEAP complex needs funding to provide additional support in ECEAP classrooms to decrease barriers that children with developmental delays, differing abilities, or challenging behaviors due to complex trauma may typically face.
The Complex Needs Fund supports all children during the hours they are in an ECEAP classroom and helps contractors supplement services for children with complex needs. All funding and supports occur outside of IEP service and are never intended to duplicate or replace these vital services.
ECEAP and Early ECEAP Contractors use the funds to:
- Add staff in classrooms
- Increase mental health/behavioral consultation
- Provide supportive and adaptive materials and equipment
- Adapt curricula
- Provide teacher coaching, training, and professional development
- Offer unique transportation services
During the 2021-22 school year, the ECEAP Complex Needs Fund:
- Enhanced 210 classrooms
- Supported 2,056 children
- Funded 39 full-time positions and 202 part-time positions
ECEAP and Early ECEAP Contractors reported that complex needs funding supported:
- 286 challenging behaviors
- 443 children on an IEP during hours spent in an ECEAP classroom and outside of formal IEP services
- 176 children who are on an IEP and have challenging behaviors
- 334 children who have experienced a complex trauma
- 682 children with other varying abilities
A Complex Needs Fund Success Story
Shortly after enrolling in the ECEAP, a child began to experience difficulties interacting with their peers. Taking turns with the classroom materials and engaging in play with their classmates often escalated into hitting, scratching, and hair pulling. Although the teachers were patient, caring, and responsive, the child's complex needs made it difficult for them to engage fully in the classroom community. The other children were beginning to avoid the child and not include them in their play and learning activities.
Through the ECEAP Complex Needs Fund, the ECE specialist collaborated with the child's family and teachers to create a Behavior Support Plan. The plan identified the function of the child's complex behaviors and how the teachers would support their learning and teach them new skills to meet the child’s needs. In addition to helping develop the support plan, the specialist worked with the teaching team to address ways to develop the child's ongoing social-emotional learning and positive interaction with their peers. As a result of these interventions, the child had a successful year in the ECEAP classroom and is looking forward to attending kindergarten in the fall.