DCYF launches Workforce Retention Grant to fund child care provider retention efforts

Funding for the grant was made possible by the Federal American Rescue Plan Act.

A $10 million, non-competitive Workforce Retention Grant was recently launched by the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). The grant will provide a one-time payment to onsite workers in eligible roles at DCYF-licensed or certified centers, as well as family home childcare providers across the state.

“We know employee retention has been a struggle faced by nearly all industries, including child care,” said Nicole Rose, DCYF Assistant Secretary of Early Learning. “We also know that increasing access to affordable, high-quality child care helps support employee retention overall.”

Each qualifying employee will receive the same amount of funding, and the total amount awarded per licensed childcare worker will depend on the total number of eligible employees identified by applicants and verified by the state’s workforce registry, MERIT.

Eligible applications include licensed or certified childcare providers who are open and serving at least one enrolled child at the time of application; have staff records up to date in MERIT; or have applied for the Child Care Stabilization Grant.

Providers must include the number of eligible staff that work for them, and eligible staff include:

  • Those in classroom roles such as lead teachers, assistant teachers and aides
  • Those in administrative positions such as licensees, directors, assistant directors, and program supervisors
  • Those in support roles such as cooks and transportation workers
  • Licensed family home providers, center directors and any other person or provider licensed by DCYF who works onsite

Those who are volunteers, household members and substitute teachers are not eligible for the grant. For the grant, providers must distribute funds equally in one lump sum payment to each eligible worker. The funds must be distributed through a payroll system or as a check.

Providers may use up to 15% of the total grant amount to pay for payroll software; to pay an accountant or financial advisory; or to pay administrative employees who work to disburse the funds. Providers must keep documentation of payments to eligible workers, and receipts and documentation for any purchases made with the 15% amount.

“We want to acknowledge the important work of the child care industry and support child care providers in their retention efforts as we all work together to increase capacity and build a stronger workforce,” said Rose. “Thank you, providers for the vital service you provide for children and families across the state.”

Funding for the grant was made possible by the Federal American Rescue Plan Act. Applications are available online through the WA Compass Provider Portal. Click here for more information on DCYF’s Workforce Retention Grant.