Currently, 40 states and the District of Columbia offer state-funded prekindergarten. Most state-funded prekindergarten programs are designed to provide grants to community-based organizations in addition to, or instead of, school districts. Nationally, four percent of 3-year-olds and 28 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in state-funded prekindergarten programs. Most state-funded prekindergarten programs are designed to operate as mixed delivery systems, in which high quality Community Child Care Programs participate along with school-based programs.
Preschool Development and Expansion Grants
The Department of Education has awarded 18 states grants under the Preschool Development and Expansion Grants program for FY 2015, totaling more than $226 million. From the 36 applications the departments received, five states will be awarded development grants: Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Montana and Nevada. Thirteen will receive expansion grants: Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. Through these Preschool Development Grant awards, more than 33,000 additional children will be served in high-quality preschool programs that meet high-quality standards in the first year of the program alone. States receiving grants will develop or expand high-quality preschool programs in regionally diverse communities—from urban neighborhoods to small towns to tribal areas—as determined by the state. Preschool programs funded under either category of grants must meet the Department’s criteria for high-quality preschool programs.
Department of Education Addresses ECEC Recommendations in Revising their Early Learning Priority Definition
In October, ECEC submitted feedback to the Department of Education regarding the Secretary’s proposed Early Learning priority definition. The Department released the revised version of the priorities this week, and we are pleased to see several of ECEC’s recommended changes addressed. In particular, ECEC suggested the Department expand their use of early learning program staff to include program administrators and explicitly reference community-based prekindergarten programs within a mixed delivery model. The revised mixed delivery language is included below; https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/12/10/2014-28911/secretarys-final-supplemental-priorities-and-definitions-for-discretionary-grant-programs?utm_campaign=subscription+mailing+list&utm_medium=email&utm_source=federalregister.gov#h-10
The Field’s Views on the Early Learning Initiative
In November 2013, the Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC) and Exchange Magazine polled their members and subscribers regarding the federal government’s Early Education Initiative. With more than 3,500 respondents, enthusiasm in the field is high. Groups described in a recent New York Times article as ordinarily having trouble agreeing on the time of day showed remarkable consensus in their views on what Washington policymakers should consider as they hammer out the details of various components of a new Early Learning Initiative. Their advice for policymakers is as follows: put quality first; fund professional development; clearly define goals to ensure successful partnerships; and level the playing field between public school and high quality child care programs. To read the results, follow the link below.
Other Helpful Resources & Reports
Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education
Foundation for Child Development, October 2013
Synthesis of IES Research on Early Intervention and Early Childhood Education
U.S. Department of Education, July 2013
The State of Preschool 2012
National Institute for Early Education Research, April 2013
Strong Start for America’s Children Act
In November 2013, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Representative George Miller (D-CA), and Representative Richard Hanna (R-NY) introduced the Strong Start for America’s Children Act. ECEC endorsed this legislation, which did not move to passage by the 114th Congress. ECEC will continue to work to raise awareness and shape the important details for a successful program on the road ahead in the 115th Congress.