Frequently Asked Questions

Contact MERIT Support at 

Please type "Career Portal Question/Issue" in the subject line. 

Use the ECE Career Planning Portal to click on online options when you search for colleges.

Online learning may be the best option without relocating. Look at the programs that offer online only degrees by clicking on the online degree option when filtering.

Most colleges offer technology assistance and computers are available in your college or local library.

Talk to the ECE Advisor at your current higher education institution or at the college where you hope to transfer. You can find your college and advisor using the advanced search feature. Then you can send an email by clicking on the advisor's name.

Select a few of the colleges that offer the degree you are interested in. Contact the ECE advisor and ask to see what earns you a degree in the most cost effective, efficient way using the credits you already have. 

Use the ECE Career Planning portal to learn about opportunities. Enter your career or education goals to learn about next steps.

Follow the Education Verification process for verifying a degree. More information can be found here. You can complete the Education Verification application on the Department of Children, Youth, and Families website by going to MERIT, obtaining a STARS ID and completing the online form.  

The college ECE advisor will help you set educational goals for the carrer you desire. Your Early Achievers coach will help you set professional development goals and assist you in getting started. Advisors are available at WA Scholarships for Child Care Providers. For more information, contact

There are many scholarships available. Talk to a financial aid counselor at the college of your choice or the Early Achievers Point of Contact at any college. Plan to file a FAFSA each year to qualify for financial aid. If you are a student who cannot file the FAFSA due to citizenship, you may be eligible to file the WASFA and qualify for in-state tuition and state financial aid. Both of these applications are free and safe. 

Most colleges offer financial aid for early learning professionals. Special grants are available for this high need field. Also see the WA Scholarships for Child Care Professionals link on the Child Care Aware of Washington website. For more information, contact or 866-308-3224. Please also visit our Financial Aid page.

To complete an Associate degree, practicum experience is required. The practicums required may include hours at your place of employment, however, this must be discussed with the course instructor. Each colllege has their own practicum requirements. 

Some colleges allow opportunity for credits to come from demonstrating competency learned outside of an academic setting. Ask about Credit for Prior Learning or a Prior Learning Assessment to know if this is offered and how it works at each college you are looking into.

Some colleges offer a Math 100 class or iBest and a math tutor/lab to assist students in completing the math requirement. Sort by colleges offering iBest if you are looking for support in basic education requirements.

The CDA (Child Development Associate) is a nationally recognized credential in early childhood education, based on a set of core competency standards set by the National Council for Professional Recognition. The Washington State Early Childhood Education Initial Certificate is recognized statewide as the first stackable certificate (12 credits). It is “stackable” because additional college courses can be stacked on top of it, in stages, to eventually achieve higher levels of college education.Washington State higher education offers the Short Certificate (8 credits stacked upon the Initial 12 credits=20 credits) and the State Certificate (27 credits stacked upon 20 credits=47 credits). In Washington the CDA meets is an equivalant for position requirements, but not prefered over the initial certificate. 


Contact your local Department of Children, Youth, and Families Licensing office to learn more about becoming licensed and opening your own licensed program.

Use the ECE Career Planning Portal to learn about opportunities. Enter your career or education goals to learn about next steps.

Contact your local colleges and talk to an ECE Advisor. Some colleges offer courses certain quarters or evey other year. They may give you credit for prior learning experiences and want to see any privious education on transcripts you may have. The amount of time it will take you depends on your availability and the specific courses you need.

Use the ECE Career Planning portal to learn about opportunities. Enter your career or education goals to learn about next steps.

Colleges honor the Americans with Disability Act. Talk to the college ECE advisor to get started, then talk to someone on campus who can explain what services may be provided.

Contact your local colleges and ask the ECE advisor if they offer courses in your language, interpretation services, tutoring services, etc.