Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP)
ECEAP helps children become successful young adults
High-quality early childhood education (ECE) supports the strength of our state and our nation, now and into the future. Parents and caregivers need ECE so that they can go to work, remain productive, and build successful careers to support their families. Employers need engaged, productive employees who are not distracted by concerns about their children’s well-being during the work day. Children need high-quality, nurturing, stimulating ECE environments for healthy brain development during the first five years of life, and to build the cognitive, social, and executive-functioning skills needed for success in school and future jobs, including a career in the military if they so choose.
The Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), Washington’s state program for three- and four-year-olds modeled after the federal Head Start program, helps children improve school readiness. In addition to doing well in school, research shows that having access to a high-quality pre-K program, like ECEAP, helps children achieve a healthy weight, and stay on the right side of the law. Being well-educated, healthy, and crime-free helps kids become successful as young adults.
Washington state policymakers must increase access to ECEAP to meet demand.
A rate increase is the first, essential step toward this goal so that the rate reflects the cost of quality including hiring qualified teachers who serve very high needs children. The number of slots must be expanded, to eventually reach entitlement levels, and there must be an adequate number of learning spaces to allow for this expansion.
Washington policymakers must continually address access to ECEAP, with regard to sustainable rate, slots, and learning space. Investing in our youngest children supports the strength of our state.