DEEL Staff Spotlight: CCAP Education Specialist Unit

Child care is an essential part of our city’s infrastructure, enabling numerous families to contribute to the economy within key roles in health care, business, education, service industries, and more. But despite the value of childcare in a healthy and vibrant city, the childcare profession is still largely an undervalued and underpaid profession, and one that has been in a crisis before and even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic began. .

Within the Department of Education and Early Learning, a team of CCAP education specialists supports child care providers working with the City of Seattle as part of the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Many of Seattle’s child care businesses, including both home and center based care, are owned and operated by black, indigenous, immigrant or refugee women of color, and DEEL’s CCAP education specialists work closely with these providers to enhance their contracting experience with the City. Education specialists (or Ed Specs, as they are sometimes referred to) work closely with DEEL’s Change Team, part of the City’s Racial and Social Justice Initiative, to promote equality in child care by providing resources and technical assistance to address systemic barriers. navigate and build bigger. access to high-quality, affordable child care for Seattle families.

CCAP Senior Education Specialist Suzette Espinoza-Cruz (center) and Education Specialist Deadru Hilliard (right) are helping to distribute personal protective equipment to childminders early in the pandemic.

The responsibilities of a CCAP education specialist include the boarding of new child care partners and the support of contracted providers serving Seattle’s diverse community of families enrolled in the CCAP program, which helps cover the cost of child care for families who eligible for income living in Seattle and having a child 12 years of age or younger. CCAP Ed Specs also supports Seattle child care providers to comply with quality measures, including state licenses and the state-wide quality grading improvement system known as Early Achievers. Together, DEEL’s Education Specialist team has decades of experience as program directors, child care licensors, consultants, professional trainers for the Washington State Training And Registry System (STARS), early childhood educators, and youth development program staff, helping to inform their work with Seattle providers.

SHARE Early Learning Deputy Division Director Leilani Dela Cruz and Child Care Program Manager Melissa Bookwalter at a COVID-19 vaccine access event for childminders in the spring of 2021.

PART is grateful for the dedication and dedication to Seattle children and families shown by the community of child care providers, as well as the work of the Ed Spec Unit to support those providers and strengthen Seattle’s child care community. If you or a family you know are seeking help to pay for children from birth to 12 years of age or you are a childminder interested in joining CCAP, please contact SHARE at For more information about the CCAP Education Specialist team, please contact

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