Child Care Complex Needs Fund available for child care providers

Submitted by the San Juan Economic Development Committee.

The Fair Start for Kids Act, passed by the Washington State Legislature in 2021, directs DCYF to create a Child Care Complex Needs Fund for child care.

The fund is intended to promote inclusive, least restrictive environments and support providers serving children with developmental delays, disabilities, behavioral needs, or other unique needs.

Round 1 of the Complex Needs Fund opened on May 10 and closed on June 21. DCYF awarded $7.35 million dollars in funding to 132 applicants.

Round 2 of the Complex Needs Fund is currently open and closes on Nov. 10 at 11:59 p.m.

Who is eligible to apply?

The Child Care Complex Needs Fund is awarded through a competitive grant process. Submitting an application does not guarantee that an eligible provider will receive a grant award. Eligible applicants may only receive Complex Needs Funds once each state fiscal year.

Eligible providers include:

Open licensed or certified child care providers.

License-exempt Family, Friend, and Neighbor providers who have served at least one child on subsidy in four of the last six months or two of the last three months and claim for subsidy through the Social Service Payment System at time of application.

To be eligible, providers must have children currently enrolled in their care who have behavioral needs, developmental delays, disabilities, or other unique needs.

DCYF Child Care Complex Needs Fund Manual

Get more information about eligibility criteria and prioritization:

English | Spanish | Somali

If you are an Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program contractor, email to learn more.

How much can a provider apply for?

Provider Type Minimum Amount Maximum Amount

Licensed or certified providers $5,000 $100,000

Family, Friend, and Neighbor providers $100 $2,000

Once the application period has ended, grants will be scored and prioritized using the Complex Needs Fund Scoring Guide.

Based on data from the first round of applications, DCYF may adjust award levels and prioritization for future application periods.

Grant funds may be used for:

Adding staff members or increasing current staff hours

Therapeutic services

Facility improvements to comply with ADA accessibility requirements or behavioral needs

Supportive and adaptive materials and equipment

Capital expenses such as major construction or renovation projects

Support to sites other than the licensed or certified site to which the funds were granted

Travel expenses including hotels, rental cars, airfare

Purchasing a vehicle

General operating costs

Review the list of ineligible items in the grant manual appendices

How does a provider apply?

All providers are required to have a WA Compass Provider Portal account before they can complete the Child Care Complex Needs Fund application.

Providers will log into the WA Compass Provider Portal, navigate to the Grant Information tab, select Current Grants, and select the DCYF Complex Needs Fund application. The provider will answer a series of questions and then submit the application.

Technical and Language Assistance

DCYF strongly encourages all providers to utilize our technical assistance partners when applying for grants. Technical assistance can offer support in your language, guidance on preparing for and accessing the application and help to answer questions on spending and saving receipts. Please contact either the Imagine Institute or Voices of Tomorrow.

Imagine Institute

Phone: 206-492-5249


Voices of Tomorrow (supporting East African child care providers)

Phone: 206-278-8290


Application Questions

If you have questions about a grant application, the timeline of a grant, or other questions specific to these grants, email