Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP)


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The Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP) provides comprehensive preschool services for Delaware’s four-year-old children.  ECAP classrooms are located in several different school districts: Lake Forest, Lewes, Capital, Seaford. 
Funded by the Department of Education, ECAP is a statewide program that supports low-income children and their families and focuses on the language, literacy, social-emotional, and physical development, health, nutrition and mental wellness.  DECC's ECAP serves 234 children and families within four school districts: Lake Forest, Cape Henlopen, Capital and Seaford. 
ECAP’s goal is to prepare children to be successful in kindergarten and beyond.  Continuity is promoted throughout the child and family’s transition into school. Educating ECAP children will be accomplished through:

  • Individualization (Observations and assessments)
  • Learning through play (Constructive play and learning areas)
  • Services ( Mental helath consultant and school district personnel)
  • DAP (Developmentally appropriate practice)

ECAP also supports families in their active involvement in school and community activities, as well as enhancing parenting skills. 


  • Children must be four by August 31.  
  • Families must meet the poverty guidelines to be eligible for ECAP services.  The poverty guidelines are found at: http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/08poverty.shtml
  • Children from families receiving public assistance (TANF or SSI) are eligible for ECAP services regardless of income.
  • Children in foster care are eligible for ECAP services, regardless of family income.
  • Families who are experiencing homelessness are eligible for ECAP.
  • Ten percent of enrollment is offered to children with disabilities.
  • Children who come from families with slightly higher income may participate in ECAP when space is available and approved by supervisor.


Special Needs Services and Mental Health Support

Our program uses a holistic approach to mental health which addresses all the needs of an individual's emotional, social, cognitive, physical and wellness needs.  Our teaching staff, coordinators, family service workers and specialist work together to support children with special needs and their whole family.  We contract with a mental health professional to provide individualized servies to those who require such services.  Providing necessary education or services according to the child's (IEP) Individualized Education Plan.

Parent and Community Involvement

The ECAP program welcomes parent and community involvement.  Through ECAP's Policy Council, members are a part of the decision making body of the Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP).  Decision makers; whose role is critical to the success of ECAP,  share responsibilities with the ECAP leadership team and the Lake Forest School district's Board of Education for ensuring there are effective policies and pocedures that strengthen program quality. Parents/guardians of enrolled ECAP children are automatic members of the Parent Committees, which meet once a month at each ECAP site.  The Parent Committee work closely with the family Service Workers and other staff to implement parent activities within the program. ECAP is committed to linking families with services they may need.  Family Service Workers are available at any time to answer questions or concerns regarding family services.