Federal Funds for Early Education
After challenging legislative sessions in many states that cut budgets for both childcare subsidies and prekindergarten programs, the Federal Government is initiating a new budgeting opportunity. Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge has dedicated $500 million grant dollars for states to use for the improvement and implementation of early education programs. The grant will reward states based on their approved plans to meet key goals in statewide early education systems. The overall goal of the Early Learning Challenge is to increase the inclusion of low income children in high quality early education programs through an effective and structured statewide system.
Currently, governors are forming work groups to include a variety of professionals to assist in the application process. Work groups include selected individuals from state agencies, non-profit organizations, and early education and child care associations. These professionals are helping to ensure that the states will meet the needs of all families, children, and community programs in the grant application process. The Early Learning Challenge has five main areas in the selection criteria: successful state systems which align early learning standards, effective comprehensive assessments, quality rating systems, commitment to professional development, and inclusion of the private sector as program partners.
Kids ‘R’ Kids is working with several state agencies and child care associations to provide input in the grant application process. As a provider of high quality early education, we are encouraging the inclusion of private preschool programs to help meet the goals of the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge. The application deadline is October 19, 2011, states will be awarded in December 2011, and funding will begin FY2012. We wish each state much success!
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