Early Learning & Care

Our goal:

Children of all races and ethnicities in Whatcom County have opportunities for high-quality, culturally relevant, affordable, accessible, and professional child care and early learning experiences.

Why it matters:

A strong foundation paves the way for success. Early childhood development, nurtured by responsive interactions and loving environments, sets the stage for lifelong learning and well-being for our children.

Investing in quality, affordable child care isn’t just about the children, it benefits our entire community. It empowers parents to pursue work and education, strengthens families, and fosters a skilled, healthy workforce – creating a ripple effect of positive outcomes for future generations. 

Reducing disparities in early learning & care access requires:

  • Ensuring early learning & care options are present throughout the county, not just in specific neighborhoods.
  • Making early learning & care financially accessible for families of all income levels.
  • Providing options catering to the needs and situations of different children and families.

This is crucial because limited access, high costs, and a lack of diverse options can disproportionately impact families who:

  • Don’t have established connections or resources within their communities to find early learning & care.
  • Face geographical barriers due to the uneven distribution of early learning & care resources.

Data highlights:

Early Learning & Care in Whatcom County

Very little data is available to help us understand children’s earliest experiences in Whatcom County, so kindergarten readiness is often used.  Data caption: In Whatcom County, roughly half of kindergarten-aged children demonstrate Kindergarten Readiness. Children entering kindergarten from families with…

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What we’re working on:

Whatcom County is investing in its youngest residents! The voter-approved Healthy Children’s Fund (HCF) invests in programs and services for children from prenatal to age 5 and their caregivers, aligning with our Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP).

Early Learning & Care is a top priority for the HCF. Look for the (HCF) tag to see specific CHIP strategies funded by this initiative. Visit our HCF section for a complete list of Early Learning & Care programs supported by the fund.


Promote BIPOC educator retention and culturally relevant curricula in early learning.

Ensure early learning & care workplace cultures, policies, and practices support the retention of educators and administrators who are Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color. (HCF) 

Increase the number of early learning and care programs that use the Since Time Immemorial & other BIPOC-created curricula.


Establish public funding to enhance early learning affordability for families.

Create a public funding stream to make early learning & care more affordable for families. Learn more about the Healthy Children’s Fund and how it’s shaping a brighter future for our youngest residents.

Expand the utilization of Washington State’s tuition subsidy program, Working Connections Child Care (WCCC), and initiate a new Whatcom County tuition subsidy program (HCF). 


Develop regional hubs for comprehensive early learning and support services.

Create regional early learning & care hubs that include shared administrative services, co-located early learning and other services for children and families, and support for smaller providers in the County (HCF)

Coordinating a system of licensed drop-in care in Whatcom County (HCF).


Advance workforce development through compensation studies, networks, and coaching programs.

Conduct workforce compensation pilot programs to identify best practices in workforce sustainability (HCF). 

Create a career development network for professional development for early learning & care providers with access to scholarships, mentoring, work release time, and child care while in class and studying (HCF).

Develop coaching programs in alignment with quality improvement efforts to increase cultural relevance, inclusion, sustainability practices, and program assessments to ensure programs meet children’s and families’ needs (HCF).

How to get involved:

Are you interested in collaborating with our Early Learning & Care action team, or supporting our work through your organization? Please get in touch: we’d love to hear from you!