Media Release: Statement from Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP on the Senate Budget

Contact: Joel Ryan or Katy Warren, 253.486.9077, 206.291.2021

Date: March 23, 2017


Latest Senate Budget Invests in ECEAP

Adds 1,200 New Spaces; Reverses Course on 3 year old Phase-out

Last night the Senate Ways and Means added funding to ECEAP so that the program could serve 1,200 more children over the next two years. They also reversed course by no longer phasing out 3 year olds from the program as had been originally proposed. Including the 6% cost per child increase included in the original proposal the new Senate budget provides more than $27 million new dollars to ECEAP. During last night’s Executive Session both Republicans and Democrats talked about the benefits of high quality early learning and expressed a strong desire to add new dollars to ECEAP. The vote to add more funding for ECEAP on the committee was unanimous.

This is a very good start and we look forward to working with the Senate, House and Governor on a final budget. We believe that an even greater investment in ECEAP is needed to dramatically improve educational outcomes and to ensure that the state gets the outcomes it needs out of its new K-12 investments.

Statement of Joel Ryan, Executive Director of WSA

“I want to personally thank both the Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Ways and Means Committee for finding additional dollars for ECEAP so more of our most at-risk three and four year old children can arrive at kindergarten at the same starting line as their middle income peers. By adding 1,200 new spaces and coupling that with an increase in the cost per child they made real progress last night for our youngest learners. Having said that, while the Senate budget took steps in the right direction, more funding is needed to truly bend the current trajectory for our most at risk children. We simply will not get the kinds of educational outcomes we need if don’t do all we can to get all children ready for kindergarten. We look forward to working with the Senate throughout the remainder of their budget negotiations with the House and the Governor to making this happen.”


ECEAP is a comprehensive “whole child”, family-focused preschool program designed to help low-income and at-risk children get ready for kindergarten. ECEAP provides an intensive combination of education, health and nutrition screening and assistance, parent involvement, training and family support, and is considered one of the country’s highest quality state pre-k programs by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

The program was established in 1985, and was modeled after the successful federal Head Start program. It is available to families who earn less than 110% of the Federal Poverty Level which is $26,675 per year for a family of four.

In the 2015-16 school year, ECEAP served 11,691 children, with 56 contracts between DEL and educational service districts, school districts, community colleges, local governments, child care centers, a coalition of licensed family child care homes, and nonprofits to provide ECEAP in 36 of 39 counties.

About WSA

The Washington State Association of Head Start/ECEAP is a statewide organization composed of representatives from ECEAP, Head Start, Early Head Start, Migrant/Seasonal Head Start, and Native American Head Start. The association has been in existence since the late 1960’s, and was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1986. The organization advocates for Head Start and for ECEAP in Olympia and in Washington DC. You can visit our web site at