In 2019, with federal funds from the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) 2.0, Senate Bill 5437 required DCYF to “develop a plan for phased implementation of a birth to three early childhood education and assistance program pilot project,” now named Early ECEAP.    

What is Early ECEAP?

A Vision of Care: It starts with imagining all that it takes for a family to feel secure in dropping off their baby or toddler with teachers and staff. What kinds of relationships and learning does this require? The triad of parent/guardian, child and teacher, all bringing what they know and embarking on this journey of ensuring secure attachments, learning in joy and cherishing the child’s full personhood. Collectively, along with DCYF staff and stakeholders, we will grow this vision and learn as we build this model. 

The federal funds are for the program years 2020-2023 and are designed to fund Early ECEAP as a pilot project. The pilot project will provide services to 144 children and families by 10 contractors spread throughout the state. Early ECEAP is one program among many in the PDG B-5, allowing DCYF to bring innovation and increased capacity to the early learning and family support systems in Washington State for infants and toddlers and their families. Early ECEAP is administered in DCYF by the ECEAP team. 

Early ECEAP will be built on the model and successful outcomes of Early Head Start (EHS) center-based and family child care models. The Early ECEAP standards are based on EHS performance standards. Using the flexibility of a pilot project and the expertise of the ECEAP team, we will use the next 2.5 years on revising and improving these standards, creating the Washington State model. 

Key features of this model:

  • Full-day, full-year child care program, up to 10 hours per day
  • Two generational approach – child and family development services laced together
  • Children ages 0-3
  • Comprehensive Child Services – health, nutrition, physical and mental health and child development and education
  • Partnership with families while children transition to preschool or other programs/options
  • Family engagement and partnership (with Policy Council)
  • Matches EHS income eligibility 130% of the federal poverty level (FPL), and up to 200% FPL with one additional risk factor (meeting Working Connections Child Care requirements)
  • Layered funding model with Working Connections Child Care 

Pilot Goals

  • Increasing high quality comprehensive center-based services to infants and toddlers and their families;
  • Foster the health, education, and well-being of infants and toddlers prenatal to three years old. Provide strength-based family support and parent education. Build trusting, respectful partnerships between families, staff, and community. In partnership with each contractor, identify and test innovative strategies for improving services to BIPOC communities, children that have experienced trauma and children with disabilities (for example);
  • Review and refine the model through ongoing learning and feedback loops with contractors and communities. 

Early ECEAP Design Team

In 2019, a design team was convened by DCYF’s Head Start Collaboration Office with a variety of stakeholders from the state, including Senator Claire Wilson, Representative Tara Senn, staff from a variety of ECEAP programs, parents, representatives from Children Alliance and WSA, Region X, Office of Child Care and Head Start and ECEAP and DCYF staff. 

The design team was tasked with imagining what is possible with these funds and how to bring these vital services to children and families. The larger goal will be demonstrating the positive impact of this model so that it compels future funding. The design team informed and co-created two important tasks;

  • Develop Early ECEAP Performance Standards. The guidance in legislation was to use EHS regulations to model Early ECEAP standards. One exciting feature of the pilot project is the openness to revision, the standards are included in that. Throughout the year, program and ECEAP staff will bring suggestions, questions and concerns coming from the “on the ground” work of implementing these standards. Annually, ECEAP staff will convene a revision process based on this “learning as we go” approach.
  • Develop criteria for the selection of 10 pilot sites. The design team was integral in ensuring both that the sites will serve some of the hardest to reach families in our state and, had the capacity to take on this new model. Ten sites were selected and distributed throughout the state in a variety of communities. 

Early ECEAP Progress

  • May-June 2020: pilot sites began startup activities to prepare for July launch. Many programs opened with children onsite, following health and safety guidelines.
  • May-August 2020: ECEAP hired staff to support implementation of this model – Early ECEAP Manager, additional CQI Specialist and Infant/Toddler Specialist. 


  • Infrastructure development is ongoing as we build out ELMS to include Early ECEAP. For this year only, we will collect data in different ways.
  • Performance standards are open for changes. The nature of a pilot project is to learn as we go, allowing us to collect the learning and ideas from contractors, parents and DCYF staff in an annual process for possible revision.
  • Mobility Mentoring® Pilot: each of the 10 contractors will also pilot the revised version of Mobility Mentoring®. 
  • Teaching Strategies Gold: In an active partnership with TS staff and stakeholders throughout Washington, we will pose some questions of the Infant/Toddler Assessment, seeking ways to revise or improve the training for the platform.

Pilot Contractors

*We are not currently accepting applications for new pilot sites and funding is subject to change.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Yakima (ECLIPSE Provider)

Yakima, WA 98908 

Centralia College

Centralia, WA 98531 

Chelan Douglas Child Services Association

Wenatchee, WA  98807 

Childhaven (ECLIPSE Provider)

Seattle, WA 98122

Community Colleges of Spokane

Spokane, WA 99210
Sub-Contractors: Salish School of Spokane, Spokane Child Development Center

Educational Service District 112

Vancouver, WA 98661 

Everett Community College

Everett, WA 98201

Mid-Columbia Children’s Council

Goldendale, WA 98620

Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center

Tacoma, WA 98045

Wellspring Family Services

Seattle, WA 98144