Save the Date! Upcoming Kaleidoscope Play & Learn Funding Opportunity

Save the Date! The Best Starts Kaleidoscope Play & Learn RFP will open next Tuesday, February 27, 2018. Is this funding opportunity the right fit for you? Read on to learn more about Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups. 

A fireman, a princess, and a chef–where might you find all three? At a Kaleidoscope Play & Learn group. A nationally recognized program, Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups are weekly 90+ minute play groups for young children and their caregivers. Led by a trained facilitator, the children enjoy culturally and developmentally appropriate play activities alongside their parents and caregivers. Through facilitator guidance and modeling, conversation, peer learning, and hands-on experience, parents and caregivers learn what they can do at home to support children’s learning and healthy development.

A mother and daughter at a Kaleidoscope Play & Learn group

How Are Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups Unique? 


Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups are free, drop-in, and open to young children of all ages. There are groups in different languages, such as Chinese and Spanish, and some groups are multilingual. Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups are held in a variety of neighborhood locations, such as libraries, community centers, schools, apartment buildings and shopping centers. Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups reach children not enrolled in formal early learning programs and their parents and family, friend and neighbor (FFN) caregivers with a focus on engaging families furthest from opportunity. FFN caregivers encompass the thousands of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, family friends and neighbors who take care of young children.

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Promising Practice

Kaleidoscope Play & Learn was designated as a Promising Practice by the University of Washington’s Evidence-Based Practice Institute in 2013. The model was created by Child Care Resources, a nonprofit serving King and Pierce Counties, and stems from their work to provide support and information to FFN caregivers.

Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is based on widely recognized and accepted research and best practices in the fields of child development; early learning; family engagement; family, friend and neighbor care; community development; and cultural competence. The model was developed over the period of 6 years with the guidance of stakeholders representing community-based organizations, ethnic/cultural communities, public libraries, schools, public health, and funders.

Child Care Resources partners with community based organizations, libraries and schools to provide Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups in their communities. Child Care Resources provides a comprehensive package of consultation, training, materials, evaluation, and shared services that support the development and implementation of Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups.


Currently, there are 56 weekly groups in King County that are facilitated by 14 community based organizations, libraries, and schools.

The program is currently implemented throughout the state of Washington and in 7 additional states. Kaleidoscope Play & Learn affiliates – the organizations providing groups – offer groups in accordance with program standards, and they participate in evaluation, training, and other quality assurance activities to ensure model fidelity.

In 2017:

  • 4,414 families participated in King County (unduplicated)
  • 74% identified as people of color
  • 61% predominantly spoke a language other than English at home
  • 46% were low income (according to federal poverty guidelines)

As a result of participating in Kaleidoscope Play & Learn:

  • 88% of caregivers and parents described more often things they did and saw with their children
  • 86% talked more often about numbers, shapes and sizes with their children
  • 86% talked more often with their children about the children’s feelings
  • 89% more frequently used community activities or services to help their children learn and be healthy
  • 91% felt more supported as a parent or caregiver in their community

Best Starts Funding to Grow Kaleidoscope Play & Learn

Next Tuesday, February 27, Best Starts for Kids will open an RFP to grow Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups across King County. This is the second funding opportunity that fits within our Community-Based Parenting and Peer Supports strategy. The first funding opportunity being Basic Needs Resource Brokering and the third upcoming opportunity is General Parenting (more to come with updated timing!).

Community-Based Parenting and Peer Supports invests in community-based programs to decrease isolation, increase social connections within communities, and improve access to resources for families and caregivers. This investment strategy also seeks to provide them with information about health, safety, child development and social-emotional well-being. Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups, with leadership from Child Care Resources, is a fantastic way for Best Starts to pursue these goals and we are excited to grow our community partnerships with the upcoming RFP. Stay tuned to our blog next Tuesday for the live RFP!

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