DOE, HHS Award $226M for Preschool Development

The U.S. DOE and HHS are granting more than $226 million to 18 states in support of improving access to high-quality early childhood services


What Happened?

The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are granting more than $226 million to 18 states in support of improving access to high-quality early childhood services.

Goal

The Preschool Development Grants from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services are designed to help state and local governments support high-quality preschool programs for low- and moderate-income families. The overall goal is to have every 4-year-old in the country gain access to preschool  programs that can set them on a track for long-term academic and professional success.

The Preschool Development Grants were offered as either development grants or expansion grants. Development grants were intended for states with small or no-state funded preschool programs. Expansion grants were available to states with more robust preschool programs or those that already received Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants.

In the first year of the Preschool Development Grant program, the winning states will use the funds to build or expand high-quality preschool programs to more than 33,000 additional children. In addition, the grants will help states create sustainable programs through partnerships with school districts and early learning providers.

Nashville, for example, has secured $33 million from the grant program that will be used for:

  • Adding 400 spots for 4-year-olds in preschool programs
  • Reducing the pre-K waiting list that currently surpasses 1,000 families
  • Creating an Early Childhood Education Commission
  • Offering teacher training for pre-K instructors

In Louisiana, the four-year $32 million grant will help more than 10,500 children gain access to high-quality preschool programs and teachers. The state wants to ensure all communities have equal opportunity and funding to hire highly-qualified instructors with advanced training.

The program is one of several initiatives under the federal government and private sector’s $1 billion investment in early childhood education.

Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge

The Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant competition is a federal program working to improve early learning and development programs nationwide. The competition focuses on:
  • Increasing access to high-quality early learning programs for infants, toddlers and preschools in low-income and disadvantaged families
  • Designing and implementing an integrated system of high-quality learning programs and services
  • Ensuring alignment with recommendations from National Research Council on early childhood development

In the program’s progress report the efforts and initiatives in the states that have already received funding were highlighted including:

  • 73 percent increase in preschool programs enrolled in Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS) assessment system
  • 175 percent increase in the number of children with high needs enrolled in state-funded preschool programs in the top tiers of their TQRIS
  • 43 percent increase in the number of children with high needs enrolled in Child Care and Development Fund programs in the top tiers of their TQRIS
  • 83 percent increase in the number of children with high needs in Head Start/Early Head Start programs in the top tiers of their TQRIS

In addition, 10 states are developing and piloting Kindergarten Entry Assessments to determine how prepared children are after leaving these preschool programs.

Building the Future

Gov1 has kept a close eye on federal grant programs designed to strengthen school systems student success .

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