Volunteers of America Western Washington (VOAWW) has been awarded a nearly $1 million grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce for new early learning classrooms in Lynnwood.
The Washington State Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) announced that a total of $43.2 million in grants was awarded to 69 early learning projects statewide. The grants provide financial assistance for providers to plan, expand, remodel, purchase or construct early learning facilities and classrooms.
According to VOAWW Chief Development Officer Kristi Myers, the $967,402 grant will support the construction of two VOAWW-operated Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP) classrooms in the organization’s Neighborhood Center planned for central Lynnwood. “This ECEAP will serve 60 preschoolers from low-income families with the focus of supporting the well-being of each child as well as prepare them for kindergarten,” Myers said. “Our teachers and staff work closely with the entire family providing health, nutrition, and family resources to ensure the students success.”
Volunteers of America Western Washington operates three ECEAP programs in Everett, Monroe and Sultan, which serve 160 children and their families. Fundraising is continuing for the Lynnwood-based Neighborhood Center, which will be a 40,000-square-foot LEED gold multi-service community center for South Snohomish County residents. VOAWW hopes to start construction by the end of 2022 with a completion date in early 2024, Meyers said.
“Early learning is a critical part of the state’s essential infrastructure for both families and our economy,” said State Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “This investment in facilities in our state will help communities ensure safe, secure and stable early learning opportunities are accessible for everyone. This is critical for an equitable recovery for the state’s economy and families, and is vital to helping ensure that children succeed.”
The partnership between Commerce and the Department of Children, Youth and Families highlights the significance of child care and early learning opportunities for all Washington families, businesses and communities, the commerce department said in a news release announcing the grants. Research from the Washington Child Care Collaborative Task Force in 2021 indicates that lack of access to affordable child care keeps over 133,000 potential workers out of Washington’s labor force, resulting in an estimated $14.7 billion less in personal earnings, and over $1 billion in lost tax revenue annually.
“Communities are stronger when there is enough access to high-quality early learning for all children, regardless of family income,” said Ross Hunter, Department of Children, Youth, and Families Secretary. “The Legislature has wisely invested in the buildings and classrooms needed to provide this level of care. I’m pleased that the strong partnership between DCYF and the Department of Commerce continues to support ECEAP contractors and Working Connections Child Care providers to expand access to care.”
You can find more information here on the 69 projects awarded funding.