Rep. Peter Abbarno congratulates the Pacific Northwest Early Learning Center in Centralia for the grant award of $900,000

State Representative Peter Abbarno congratulated the Pacific Northwest Early Learning Center in Centralia for being awarded $900,000 from the Early Learning Facilities (ELF) Capital Facilities Competitive Grant Program.  The Washington State Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) announced $43.2 million in grants to 69 early learning projects across the state.

“When my children were young, I remember how painful it was financially and emotionally to find child care for our children. The sacrifices and decisions we had to make were difficult and I am proud of the increasing investment through the Legislature and the capital budget, in particular.  Washington state must continue to do a better job investing in families and childcare,” said Abbarno, Assistant Ranking Republican on the House Capital Budget Committee. “Quality child care and early learning helps struggling families financially, opens up educational and employment opportunities for parents, and helps prepare children for kindergarten.”

“Early learning is a critical part of the state's essential infrastructure for both families and our economy,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown in an earlier release from the Washington State Department of Commerce.  “This investment in facilities in our state will help communities ensure safe, secure ,and stable early learning opportunities are accessible for everyone. This is critical for an equitable recovery for the state's economy and families, and is vital to helping ensure that children succeed.”

Commerce awarded projects in three categories: pre-design ($20,000 award limit); minor renovation and pre-development ($200,000 award limit); and new construction and major renovation ($1 million award limit). When making award decisions, Commerce and DCYF evaluated key project criteria such as the number of early learning spaces for kids from low-income families, the project location relative to other early learning facilities, and projects located in rural locations and low-income neighborhoods, among other factors. The grants provide financial assistance to allow Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) contractors and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) providers to plan, expand, remodel, purchase or construct early learning facilities and classrooms.

In Washington state, it is estimated that 117,884 families with young children live in child care deserts. The early learning facilities program makes it possible for child care facilities to expand and serve additional children in the 20th Legislative District and beyond through the Working Connections Child Care and/or the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program. Other recent investment in child care and early learning through this program in the 20th Legislative District included:

  • Discover! Children's Museum in in the amount of $999,100;
  • Centralia College in Centralia in the amount of $800,000;
  • United Way of Lewis County in the amount of $2,950,000; and
  • Bethel Kids Learning Center in the amount of $199,999.

“Early learning has been a priority of mine, especially representing communities located in child care deserts,” added Abbarno, R-Centralia. “Supporting early learning facilities through the capital budget, as well as programs like Dolly Parton's Imagination Library and Fair Start for Kids, is something the parents and children in my community want and need. There are few better long-term investments in our communities and in our children than early learning and child care.”

For more information about the Early Learning Facilities Program or how to apply, visit the Washington State Department of Commerce website at


Washington State House Republican Communications