Early Learning Facilities Program

The Department of Commerce manages funding awarded through direct appropriation and competitive processes that establish new capacity for early learning providers. The Early Learning Facilities (ELF) program supports Washington’s commitment of developing additional high quality early learning opportunities for children from low-income households. Commerce’s partners in the program are the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington Community Reinvestment Association, Enterprise Community Partners, Craft 3 and the Early Learning Facilities Advisory Board.

Children in a classroom with learning materials

Our Program

The Early Learning Facilities (ELF) program aims to help Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) contractors and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) providers to expand, remodel, purchase, or construct early learning facilities and classrooms necessary to support early learning opportunities for children from low-income households.

Commerce’s ELF program funding opportunities consists of four parts:

  • Competitive grants to eligible organizations
  • Competitive grants to K-12 school districts
  • Direct appropriations from the Legislature
  • A grant and loan program operated by Washington Community Reinvestment Association, Enterprise Community Partners, and Craft3.

Funding Availability Information

ELF funding is open to nonprofits, public entities, K-12 schools and districts, tribes and for-profit businesses. The type of eligible applicant depends on the requirements of the current funding round being released as indicated below. Nonprofit and for-profit business applicants must be registered in the State of Washington. All applicants must be able to meet all applicable licensing and certification requirements under specific RCWs and WACs pertaining to the early learning and childcare services proposed in the facilities to which the funding will be applied.

Grants made by the ELF program are for reimbursement of capital projects only. Capital costs may include acquisition, design, engineering, third-party construction management, and construction and capitalized equipment costs associated with building early learning facilities. If funding is provided for the acquisition of a building or land, the acquisition must have the resulting outcome of a facility that increases early learning opportunities for children from low-income households.

K-12 School District Funding Round

The K-12 School District Funding Round closed at 4:00 PM on July 20, 2022.

Applications will be reviewed and scored, with recommendations for funding sent to the Legislature.

Funding decisions will be made when the next Capital Budget is approved, and applicants will be notified of funding decisions at that time.

2022 Federal Funding - Child Care Minor Renovations Grant

The application period for the 2022 Child Care Minor Renovations Grant is now CLOSED.  With the large volume of applications, award announcements are anticipated to occur in the fall of 2022. 

2021-2023 Eligible Organizations Competitive Grant

The next funding round of the Eligible Organizations Competitive Grant is anticipated to be released in the fall of 2023.  Please watch this space for information on the next round next year.

Please sign-up for email updates at the bottom of this page to be notified of program releases.

Click here for the press release with a list of the 2021-2023 Eligible Organization awardees. 

2021-2023 Early Learning Facilities Funding

Funding  CategoryTotal AppropriationNumber of Projects Awarded
K-12 School Districts$4,719,0009
Direct Appropriation$7,952,0009
Eligible Organizations$47,048,00069
Minor Renovations$28,522,000TBD
2021-23 Early Learning Facilities Awardees


Commerce has selected three CDFI partners, Washington Community Reinvestment Association, Enterprise Community Partners, and Craft 3 to run our loan program. See the WELL Fund Flyer for more information or go to the Washington Early Learning Loan Fund website.

Related Law

RCW 43.31.565 through RCW 43.31.583
Link to 2021-23 Program Legislation:
SHB 1080, Sections 1057 and 1083                                        ESHB 1370

Link to 2019-21 Program Legislation:
SHB 1102, Section 1037

Links to 2017-19 Program Legislation:
HB 1777
ESSB 6095, Section 1005

Program Guidelines

Funding Round Awardees


For all program related questions, please email: earlylearningfacilities@commerce.wa.gov

Program Staff

Department of Commerce

Amy Gutierrez
Program Manager – State Appropriation
Phone: 360-280-0010

Olivia Cormier
Program Manager – Federal Appropriation
Phone: 360-485-3921

Kristin Ramos
Community Projects Supervisor
Phone: 360-515-6504

Matt Mazur-Hart
Behavioral Health and Early Learning Section Manager
Phone: 360-742-9099

Technical Assistance

Department of Children, Youth, and Families

Jody Hitchings
Pre-Licensing Unit Supervisor
Phone: 360-271-4214

Grace Ssebugwawo
Community Funded ECEAP/Early Learning Facilities Specialist
Phone: 360-701-7197

Kelcy Shaffer
ECEAP Operations Manager
Phone: 360-407-3663

DCYF Child Care / Early Learning Providers Technical Assistance

DCYF Early Learning & Child Care Offices

Enterprise Community Partners
Juanita Salinas-Aguila
Program Director Pacific Northwest
Phone: 206-223-4518

ChildCare Aware Washington
Phone: 253-383-1735

Listings for “Washington State Regional Coalitions for Early Learning”

Washington Communities for Children

USDA and HHS Joint Resource Guide – To strengthen and expand child care facilities in rural communities.

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