A new competitive grant by the Washington state child welfare agency aims to increase access to child welfare support services promoting “culturally responsive” parent support, early learning and early childhood programs in the state.
The $5.1 million Early Childhood Equity Grant is meant to bolster inclusive learning that is appropriate and relevant to culture, and improve access to services in multiple languages, according to a state Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) press release.
This grant will be released over three rounds of funding and was established by the Fair Start for Kids Act, passed last year by the state Legislature. The 2021 Senate bill invests $1.1 billion in early childhood and parent support programs that are “inclusive and culturally and linguistically specific” to promote equity in Washington’s early learning system.
Those eligible for the grant include child care providers who are certified or licensed; license-exempt providers that serve kids with state child care subsidies; contractors for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP); and state-recognized Play and Learn Groups.
Grant award amounts vary depending on the type of provider applying. According to the DCYF Early Childhood Equity Grant webpage, licensed or certified providers and ECEAP contractors can be awarded a maximum $100,000. Play and Learn Groups can be awarded a maximum $30,000, and license-exempt providers can be awarded a maximum $2,000.
The application, available in six languages — English, Spanish, Somali, Russian, Arabic and Mandarin — must provide a spending plan for the funds requested. The provider’s application will be screened using DCYF’s Application Preview Guide, and providers eligible for funds may be awarded the grant every two years.
Grant funds can be used for program design and delivery, staff training and education, and assessment resources to evaluate the program. Funds cannot be used for general program costs, capital improvements like renovations, or pay bumps for current staff. All grant-funded activities must “advance or inspire” cultural and linguistic inclusivity and culturally responsive learning environments.
The application period for the first round of funding is currently open and will close Aug. 16. Award decisions will be made by the fall.