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

Professional Development Achievement Awards


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You can submit your education for verification and apply for an achievement award in one easy application. Just sign into MERIT and click on the My Education tab to begin!  

Go to MERIT and apply >

What are Professional Development Achievement Awards?

DEL uses the Professional Development Achievement framework to recognize and reward the educational achievements of all early learning professionals. Applicants who have earned degrees, certificates and credentials may be awarded as follows:


Degree Award — available for highest level of education


GED (General Educational Development)


high school diploma


associate’s degree


bachelor's degree


master's degree


doctoral degree


ECE Major Award — available for up to four verified ECE majors


associate’s degree with ECE major


bachelor’s degree with ECE major


master’s degree with ECE major


doctoral degree with ECE major


ECE Certificates & Credentials Award — available for up to three verified ECE certificates & credentials


Washington State ECE Initial Certificate


Washington State ECE Short Certificate of Specialization


Washington State ECE Certificate


Child Development Associates (CDA) CredentialTM $50

ECE Certificates and Credentials


1 year ECE certificate/diploma (minimum of 45 credits)


MACTE accredited teacher credential in infant/toddler (I/T)


MACTE accredited teacher credential in ECE


Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) diploma in assistants to infancy (A to I): covers birth–3 years of age


Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) diploma in primary: covers 3–6 years of age


13 Military Modules


Other certificate equal to a minimum of 12 ECE credits



What is an ECE major?

DEL recognizes the following ECE (Early Childhood Education /Early Care and Education) majors:

  • Early childhood education
  • Human development with a specialization in ECE
  • Children’s studies/childhood education
  • Elementary education with one of the following endorsements:
    • Early childhood education
    • Early childhood special education
    • P-3
    • P-3 special education

If your degree major is not listed above, but you believe that it is an ECE major, DEL can review your transcripts in more detail to see whether your major aligns with Washington State Core Competencies and ECE Credential Standards.


How do I apply for an Achievement Award?

Sign into MERIT and click on the "My Education" tab. Select "Enter my education and qualify for an award" and follow the steps! 

If you do not have a Statewide Vendor Number, fill out the Statewide Payee Registration Form found at You can choose from English, Somali, or Spanish and view instructions in each language on how to complete the form.


If I already submitted my education in MERIT and received a Achievement Award, can I submit it again to get another Achievement Award?

  • No: You can’t be paid again for education that you have received an award for.
  • If you have additional degrees, credentials, or certificates, you can add them to your MERIT record: They may be eligible for a movement award.
  • If you have verified education and have not yet received an award, please contact MERIT to see if you are eligible for an award under the current policy at


What is movement?

After receiving an initial education award, you may be eligible for additional awards if you achieve further movement. Movement is defined as a degree or ECE accomplishment that you attain or complete after your education was first reported and verified. In order to qualify as movement, newly earned degrees must be higher than the previously verified degree; they may not be the same level of degree with a different major. 


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