Support for Early Learning and Families FAQs

What is Support for Early Learning and Families, anyway?

Support for Early Learning and Families, often called SELF, brings together all of the sectors that touch early childhood education, including health care, early childhood educators, human and social services, K-12 school districts, the private sector and families, creating a common place to focus efforts, resources, and strategies with a shared purpose. The goal is a more coordinated approach to bridge the gap between formal education and intervention. It’s not a direct service provider, but SELF provides the overall vision, research and direction to ensure that existing community services are coordinated in the most effective way to serve all families. Collaboration is at the heart of SELF’s work.

What does Support for Early Learning and Families do?

Advocacy — SELF advocates with lawmakers at all levels on all issues related to early childhood.

Innovation — SELF works to come up with innovative ways to solve early childhood problems, such as the shortage of child care.

Coordination — SELF networks with other nonprofits, agencies and government entities at local and state levels to coordinate efforts to improve opportunities for young children and their families.

Human Resources — SELF is the nonprofit that hires all employees for the child care programs of Educational Service District 112.

How does Support for Early Learning and Families advocate for early childhood education?

Together with other advocates from around the state, SELF heads to Olympia during each legislative session to talk with lawmakers about urgent early childhood issues. SELF also sponsors in-person tours so state and local leaders can see for themselves what’s happening at the ground level and how their work affects lives.

Why does Support for Early Learning and Families hire ESD 112’s child care workers?

For decades, ESD 112 has outsourced human resources for its child care centers to a local nonprofit. When the opportunity arose, SELF applied and won the contract. SELF works hard to hire excellent people, offer benefits and to show appreciation to each employee.

How is Support for Early Learning and Families funded?

Besides salaries and benefits for child care workers, the ESD contract includes funds that cover the employees who do the HR, financial and administrative work. Other money comes from grants for specific projects.

How do you translate the alphabet soup in early childhood?

SELF — Support for Early Learning and Families

ESD 112 — Educational Service District 112, supporting essential services for 50 school districts in Southwest Washington.

ECEAP — Early Childhood Education Assistance Program, Washington’s pre-kindergarten program that prepares 3- and 4-year-old children from families furthest from opportunity for success in school and in life.

DCYF — Washington’s Department of Children, Youth and Families, the cabinet-level agency focused on the well-being of children.

How has COVID affected Support for Early Learning and Families?

Child care was already in crisis before the pandemic, as research conducted by SELF and others showed. During the pandemic, many childcare providers closed their programs; Clark County lost 30% of its child care capacity, and has been scrambling to rebuild to a level that was already inadequate. One positive thing came from the pandemic; it shone a spotlight on the child care problems in our country.