Alert: Beginning July 1, 2018, the Department of Early Learning will become the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). After June 30, 2018, this website will no longer be updated. For the latest information on early learning, visit the DCYF website at

Roles, Qualifications, and Training


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Early learning professionals provide care and education to our State's littlest learners. There are various roles within early learning in Washington:

  • Family Home Child Care- Family Home Child Care Owner/Licensee is a person who obtains a license from the Department of Early Learning to offer ongoing care for one or more children in their own home. Other Family Home Child Care staff include lead teachers, assistants, aides, and volunteers.
  • Child Care Center-A Child Care Center Director/Owner is responsible for the overall management of the center's facility and operation and ensures that the center follows licensing requirements. Other Child Care Center staff include lead teachers, assistants, aides, and volunteers. 
  • Head Start- Head Start is a federally funded preschool program that provides free services and support to eligible children and their families. To learn more about Head Start, click here
  • ECEAP- The Early Childhood Education Assistance Program is Washington's state funded preschool program. To learn about roles within ECEAP, click here


Washington uses the Early Care and Education and School Age Core Competencies to define what professionals need to know and be able to do when providing high quality care for children. These competencies are used in the creation of job postings, professional development plans, knowledge assessments and more. 

For a list of staff qualifications with new and existing WAC requirements, view Staff Qualifications with New and Existing WAC.

For more information about roles and their qualifications in early childhood education, including Head Start and ECEAP, visit the Early Childhood Education Career Planning Portal


Early learning child care providers are responsible for completing trainings both before they provide care and during their career. 

To find information about DEL's online training and resources to accompany training, visit the online training library