DCYF Integrates Early Learning and Child Welfare

January 8, 2020
mother and young child

Leveraging Supports for Children and Families: Integrating Early Learning and Child Welfare

Last month, DCYF announced receiving a $34 million renewal grant to implement the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5), which allows us to strengthen and build integrated services across early learning and child welfare. Governor Jay Inslee has also shown his continued commitment to early learning and child welfare in his recently released supplemental budget.

“The integration work underway between early learning and child welfare is reflected in the activities in the Preschool Development Grant as well as the items released in the Governor’s budget,” said Judy King, Director of Family Support Programs. “Exciting opportunities are arising as a result of this momentum. We look forward to improving early learning opportunities for children and families involved in child welfare.”

The PDG B-5 renewal grant includes:

  • Early ECEAP implementation – providing an opportunity to serve more at-risk infants and toddlers with comprehensive early learning and family support services. With the awarding of the PDG B-5 renewal grant, DCYF has 144 slots to distribute, which will serve infants and toddlers and their families in 10 communities in 2020.
  • Specialized Pathways for early learning from child welfare – three communities have early learning liaisons in child welfare offices to identify ways to connect families with young children to high quality early learning programs and services. This includes programs such as ECEAP, Head Start, home visiting, early intervention and play and learn groups. DCYF staff are working with the Harvard Government Performance Lab Fellow to identify how to strengthen these pathways across our state.
  • Work is underway to develop a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated system linkages and referrals to help families with young children find what they need. Using the national Help Me Grow® model, families and providers that see families (such as hospitals, clinics, schools, child care) will have access to the information, supports or services they need when they need them.

Governor Inslee’s budget proposes:

  • Designating 50 of the 600 new slots for the 2020–21 school year to be available for children in foster care to access ECEAP no matter when during the school year they start. This will be of tremendous benefit to the many 3- and 4-year-olds who become state dependents during the school year and for whom there are no slots.
  • Funds to screen foster children from birth to 3 years old for physical, developmental, and behavioral abilities and makes referrals for early intervention services when needed.