Many early learning programs were shocked to receive a letter from DCYF confirming that the “teacher retention” grant excluded many eligible full-time teachers.

The Washington Child Care Association quickly conducted an informal online poll to gauge the impact on providers across Washington State. Out of 114 responses, 70% had eligible employees not included in the grant award. Based on this data and accompanying feedback, the root of this problem lies in how verifying staff in MERIT was expected to be done.

In response to complaints, DCYF emailed a statement that it is “aware of some concerns.” Unfortunately, this statement gravely underestimates the terrible situation in which DCYF has put early learning directors.

Here are some, but not all, of the problems:

  • Directors are only allowed to give money to the teachers DCYF deemed eligible, but not all eligible teachers.
  • Directors have teachers whom DCYF mistakenly did not grant the bonus and now have to decide whether to give all the money back to DCYF or pay out of their budgets bonuses for the rest of their staff.
  • Directors have to decide what to do quickly because DCYF demands that the money be spent on the paycheck in December.
  • Because of the utter confusion, there is tension between teachers who expect the state-granted bonus and Directors who can’t afford to give their entire staff the missing money that DCYF is not affording them.

Please click on this link if you want to sign the petition stating that emergency intervention is needed to ensure that ALL eligible early learning staff receives the DCYF Retention Grant awards.