By the Washington State Department of Early Learning

ECEAP (Washington’s state-funded pre-kindergarten program) is designed to prepare 3- and 4-year-old children from low-income and at-risk families for success in school and in life. Its comprehensive approach includes: preschool education; family support; parent involvement; and, health and nutrition services.

The program is doing a two-year pilot to help learn what helps families most and what resources are needed. To get a full look at the year-one report, go here:

We Want to: Learn about the best ways to help families advance their goals, well-being and self-reliance; Test a statewide Family Strengths and Needs Assessment. The assessment helps to see family strengths, needs, and goals and note the progress that families are making. What Did We Learn from Year One? ECEAP contractors tested two family support models, EMPath Mobility Mentoring® and the Family Development Matrix model. These models were chosen because they helped families in other states improve their well-being and family goals.

EMPath’s Mobility Mentoring® Model. This approach, grounded in EMPath’s Bridge to Self-Sufficiency™, articulates a family’s transformative journey from poverty to economic self-sufficiency by optimizing the family’s life in five domains: family stability; well-being; financial management; education; and career management. ECEAP family support staff act as Mobility Mentoring® coaches who partner with families to help them acquire resources and skills, and sustain behavior changes. EMPath outcomes include dramatic increases in education and training participation (45%) and household savings (63%). Family Development Matrix Model. The Family Development Matrix (FDM) model is a family decision-making and goal-setting model that uses an assessment tool and online database with indicators to measure family and program outcomes. A 2014 California evaluation showed increases of between 10.8 and 15.9 points in percentages of families at the safe/self-sufficient levels in areas such as: children’s social and emotional development, and parental resilience.

Who Participated? Fourteen ECEAP sites serving families in cities and towns across the State tested each model. 1,552 families of different races, ethnicities, and home languages participated for the complete year. “The biggest thing …that family support helped my family with was teaching me how to be a productive father and family member.” –Puget Sound ESD Parent Participant What Were the Results? Families in both models made gains between the beginning and end of the year. ECEAP staff said they liked how the tools from these models helped them have deeper conversations with families, so they could make sure that services and resources fit each family’s needs. They also enjoyed seeing families meet their goals.

What is Happening in Year Two of the Pilot? Based on the information gathered in year one, DEL decided that Mobility Mentoring® was the best model for ECEAP. Staff from 20 contractors attended the EMPath Mobility Mentoring® training in August, 2016. These staff will train the family advocates. Family support services will begin when ECEAP starts in September. DEL ECEAP will provide ongoing training and support to contractors who are using Mobility Mentoring®. Family support conversations will be guided by ECEAP Bridge to Child and Family Self-Reliance. DEL will ask all ECEAP families to take a survey at the end of the year. This will help us learn what services helped most and what else we can do to improve services. DEL will review the data and results. We will use this to recommend the next steps for family support in ECEAP.