Seattle Preschool Program Expands with 7 New Classrooms for the 2022-23 School Year, Increasing Access to Early Learning Opportunities for Seattle Families

Applications open now for Seattle three- and four-year olds to support kindergarten readiness

Seattle – Today, at the Denise Louie Education Center in the Chinatown International District, Mayor Bruce Harrell and Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) Director Dwane Chappelle announced the opening of Seattle Preschool Program (SPP) applications for the 2022-2023 school year.

This year, the City’s award-winning preschool program will expand with seven additional classrooms and 144 additional seats to provide high-quality preschool programming for Seattle three- and four-year-olds. Two of the new classrooms will offer dual-language programming and two will offer SPP Plus, which provides inclusive programming for children with disabilities. A full list of programs and application materials is available at www.seattle.gov/applySPP, where in-language applications are also available. Families who need language assistance to complete the application process can contact DEEL at 206-386-1050 or email preschool@seattle.gov.

“Access to high-quality early learning opportunities like the Seattle Preschool Program drives equity in our City and helps ensure every kid is on a path toward a strong and prosperous future,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell.One Seattle means creating a city where all Seattle students are better prepared for success in school and in life, and residents should take pride in this nationally recognized program. I encourage parents across Seattle to apply and to embrace our Seattle Preschool Program and the many benefits that come with it.” 

Seattle Preschool Program is offered by the City’s Department of Education and Early Learning in partnership with community-based providers and Seattle Public Schools, with 88 program sites available across the city. With funding from the seven-year Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise (FEPP) Levy, SPP is on track to serve more than 2,500 children by 2026. The number of slots available for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year will increase to 2,144. SPP tuition is free for most Seattle families, with rates for higher income families calculated based on household income and family size.

“As the parent of public school students, I know firsthand how important relevant high-quality, early learning and accessibility is for all members of our community,” said Councilmember Tammy Morales, Chair of the Neighborhoods, Education, Civil Rights & Culture Committee. “The City has a responsibility to provide education for our littlest learners across all neighborhoods, so that parents and families can have the access they deserve, no matter where in Seattle they live. I’m excited to see this award-winning program continue to expand access and provide educational equity to all children.”

“During the pandemic, we saw kindergarten enrollment decline across our state. Now, more than ever, the high-quality programming our amazing Seattle Preschool Program teachers provide is needed to ensure more Seattle children develop important pre-academic and social-emotional skills that prepare them for kindergarten, and by extension, for greater academic success in the future,” said DEEL Director Dr. Dwane Chappelle.

To better support student learning during the pandemic, DEEL has provided more than 8,700 home learning kits for SPP families to encourage parent engagement and support sensory exploration and important foundations for learning and development. DEEL is also offering providers the opportunity to extend SPP programming into the summer months for the second year in a row to provide children with supplemental learning opportunities to help them succeed in kindergarten despite the interruptions many experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Susan Yang, Director at Denise Louie Education Center, a longtime City partner and SPP provider with locations in Beacon Hill, Magnuson Park, and the Chinatown/International District, participated in today’s announcement with Mayor Harrell and Director Chappelle, which included distribution of the latest installment of DEEL home learning kits.

“Our longstanding partnership with the Department of Education and Early Learning has been invaluable for our program,” said Yang. “Many of our families are essential workers who are directly feeling the impact of rising costs and lasting effects of the pandemic. Providing their children with high-quality early learning opportunities at this time is a job we do not take lightly. We are thankful to the City, our staff, and our volunteers for their commitment to preparing our youngest learners for kindergarten.”

The Seattle Preschool Program is focused on advancing educational equity and reducing race-based opportunity gaps in kindergarten readiness. During the current school year, 77% of students enrolled in SPP identified as Black, Indigenous, and people of color, and approximately one-third of all African American kindergarteners in Seattle Public Schools were previously enrolled in SPP. Results from Year 1 of the FEPP Levy indicate that African American SPP participants were 10% more likely to meet kindergarten readiness standards than their peers who did not participate in SPP, and race-based opportunity gaps closed overall by four percent.    

“The District is thrilled to enter the eighth year of our collaborative effort to expand early learning opportunities for children and families in the city of Seattle. Upon Board approval, DEEL funding will allow Seattle Public Schools to offer 644 overall seats, including a hundred inclusive seats for students with disabilities and two new preschool classrooms. In partnership with DEEL, SPS is implementing culturally responsive, strength-based practices, including specific instructional and family engagement strategies that support kindergarten readiness and the success of our youngest learners, with a strategic focus on African American boys. The District is committed to continuing our strong partnership to implement common goals and strategies that ensure students furthest from educational justice have exemplary early childhood opportunities,” said Heather Brown, Director of Early Learning for Seattle Public Schools, the City’s largest SPP partner.

Throughout the pandemic, SPP providers modified their programming and classrooms to align with the latest COVID-19 health and safety protocols from health officials in order to keep children, families, and program staff safe. As public health guidance continues to shift based on local case levels, SPP classrooms will continue to follow local guidelines and minimize risks to students and staff. Parents can follow the latest recommendations from public health officials and inquire with individual SPP providers for their site’s specific health and safety policies.

New Seattle Preschool Program expansion sites for the 2022-2023 school year are as follows:

Child Care Resources New SPP Family Child Care providers through existing FCC HubMultiple locations  
Experimental Education Unit at University of Washington New classroom at existing SPP site Will offer SPP Plus (inclusive programming for children with disabilities) and ECEAP*University District      
Leschi Elementary School (Seattle Public Schools) New SPP classroom/siteCentral Seattle – Leschi  
Magnolia Elementary (Seattle Public Schools) New classroom at existing SPP site Will offer SPP Plus (inclusive programming for children with disabilities)Central Seattle – Magnolia    
Refugee and Immigrant Family Center Bilingual Preschool New SPP classroom with existing partner program Will offer dual-language programming (Spanish – English) and ECEAP*SW Seattle – Delridge      
Tiny Tots Development Center – Othello New SPP classroomSouth Seattle – Rainier Valley  
Voices of Tomorrow Child and Family Center Two new SPP classrooms Will offer dual-language programming (Somali – English)South Seattle – Rainier Valley
*Early Childhood Education Assistance Program, which includes funding from the Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families

All families living in Seattle who have a child who will be either three- or four-years-old by August 31, 2022, are eligible to apply. For more information on the Seattle Preschool Program, visit www.seattle.gov/education.