What are ECEAP and Head Start?

Graphic art of three childrenECEAP (pronounced "E-Cap") is the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program funded by Washington State for children 3 and 4.

Head Start is funded by the federal government for children ages 3 and 4.  Early Head Start provides in person and home-based services for pregnant women and children 0-3 years old.

Both ECEAP and Head Start include:

  • Free early learning child care or preschool to support child's development and learning. In some locations, Head Start may also offer home-based services.
  • Family support and parent involvement.
  • Child health coordination and nutrition.
  • Services responsive and appropriate to each child's and family's heritage and experience.

Are You Eligible?

Children are eligible for ECEAP and Head Start based on their age and family income. Eligibility is generally based on family income at or below the poverty level according to the Poverty Guidelines published by the federal government. Up to 10 percent of ECEAP and Head Start children can be from families above the income limit if they have:

  • Developmental factors such as developmental delay, disability, or other special needs.
  • Environmental factors such as homelessness, family violence, chemical dependency, foster care, or incarcerated parents.

Children in foster care, homeless children, and children from families receiving public assistance (TANF or SSI) are eligible regardless of income.

How to ApplyGraphic art of two children sitting on bench in front of schoolhouse

Your community's program can help you with understanding local requirements for enrolling your child. They will answer questions, provide you with required forms, and tell you what documents you should bring with you to apply.

Due to limited government funding, there are not enough spaces for all eligible children. If there is not a space for you and your child at this time, ask the program to put your family on the waiting list.

How to Find Your Local Program

Use the Head Start Locator to find a Head Start program near your home. Call the phone number listed to find

out the next steps in the process.

ECEAP programs are listed here (pdf):

Still need help? Email enrollment@wsaheadstarteceap.com 

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