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Staff Spotlight: CCAP Education Specialist Unit

This article spotlights DEEL's staff unit of CCAP Education Specialists, who support child care providers partnering with the City of Seattle as part of the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).

Child care is an essential part of our city’s infrastructure, allowing countless families to contribute to the economy within vital roles in healthcare, business, education, service industries, and more. But despite the value of child care within a healthy and vibrant city, the child care profession is largely still an undervalued and underpaid occupation, and one that has been in 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 support child care providers partnering with the City of Seattle as part of the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Many of Seattle’s child care businesses, including both home-based 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 improve their experience contracting 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 Race and Social Justice Initiative, to advance equity in child care by providing resources and technical assistance to navigate systemic barriers and building greater access to high-quality, affordable childcare for Seattle families.

CCAP Senior Education Specialist Suzette Espinoza-Cruz (center) and Education Specialist Deadru Hilliard (right) help distribute Personal Protective Equipment to child care providers early in the pandemic.

The responsibilities of a CCAP Education Specialist include onboarding new child care partners and supporting contracted providers who serve Seattle’s diverse community of families who are enrolled in the CCAP program, which helps cover the costs of child care for income-eligible families who live in Seattle and have a child 12 years or younger. CCAP Ed Specs also support Seattle child care providers in meeting quality measures, including state licensing and the statewide Quality Rating Improvement System known as Early Achievers. Collectively, 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 learning educators, and youth development program staff, which helps to inform their work with Seattle providers.

DEEL Early Learning Deputy Division Director Leilani Dela Cruz and Child Care Program Manager Melissa Bookwalter at a COVID-19 vaccine access event for child care providers in spring 2021.

DEEL is grateful for the dedication and commitment 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 is looking for help paying for child care for children from birth to 12 years old or you are a child care provider that is interested in joining CCAP, please contact DEEL at For more information about the CCAP Education Specialist team, please reach out to