State Initiative

State Strategies to Strengthen Infant-Toddler Care, while Expanding Pre-k – Washington

Apr 6, 2022

Anticipating potential growth of state pre-k programs, state policymakers should consider a number of approaches to protect and expand the existing infant-toddler child care infrastructure. Beyond limiting harm to infant-toddler programs, state leaders could take the opportunity to invest in a birth-5 system that equitably supports high quality services for infants and toddlers and preschool-age children.

Federal Head Start grants are awarded directly from federal to local grantees to support comprehensive center-based programming for three to five-year-olds. Early Head Start grants support center-based and home-based services for pregnant women and families with infants and toddlers. Some states provide supplemental funding to boost access to these programs.

As more preschool-age children have access to public pre-k, states may consider further investment in the EHS model. These funds can help to expand the reach of the program, support partnerships between Early Head Start and child care, and support workforce development and compensation. In Washington state, for example, the state legislature allocated federal Preschool Development Grant resources in 2019 to support a birth to three pilot program known as Early ECEAP that builds on the EHS model and uses standards based on EHS performance standards. States might also collaborate with federal and local partners in considering the role of federal Head Start funding in serving infants and toddlers, as public pre-k continues to expand.

To read more about state strategies to strengthen infant-toddler care, while expanding pre-K read here.

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