New Preschool Grant Program Will Expand Opportunity to More of America’s Early Learners

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Secretary Arne Duncan interacts with a student at the Hug Me Tight Childlife Center in Pittsburgh. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

Across the country, there is a great need for early learning. But the need isn’t just for preschool seats — it’s for high-quality early learning programs that can put children on the path to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.

Research has shown the powerful benefits of high-quality early education. Children who receive rich early learning experiences are less likely to need special education services. They’re in better health, and they get better jobs. Yet, today, only 30 percent of 4-year-olds in the U.S. participate in state preschool, and 10 states don’t offer it at all. Among other industrialized nations, the U.S. ranks 25th in enrollment of 4-year-olds in early learning.

President Obama has issued a call to expand access to high-quality preschool to every child in America. Yesterday, an important down payment was made toward that goal when Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced the availability of funds through the Preschool Development Grants program.

This new $250 million federal program will support states to build, develop, and expand voluntary, high-quality preschool programs for children from low- and moderate-income families. It will be jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. All states — including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico — are eligible to apply by Oct. 14, 2014.

Secretary Duncan noted, “Through the Preschool Development Grants, we continue our efforts to create educational opportunities that prepare our youngest Americans for success in kindergarten, through elementary school and beyond. This new grant competition will prepare states to participate in President Obama’s proposed Preschool for All program — a federal-state partnership that would promote access to full-day kindergarten and encourage the expansion of high-quality preschool programs for 4-year-olds from low- and middle-income families.”

He added, “We urge states and communities to seize this opportunity, form partnerships, and begin drafting their proposals for the Preschool Development Grants program, because providing high-quality early learning opportunities is the most important single step we can take to improve the future of our young people.”

Secretary Duncan highlighted the new grant program yesterday during a trip to Pittsburgh, where he joined Mayor William Peduto in a visit to the Hug Me Tight Childlife Center and a community conversation at Hill House’s Kaufmann Center.

While at Hug Me Tight, Secretary Duncan toured classrooms, met with early childhood education providers, parents, and community members, and engaged in arts activities with some of the city’s youngest learners. Following the visit to the center, Secretary Duncan and Mayor Peduto participated in a discussion on early learning hosted by the city of Pittsburgh and the National League of Cities.

For more information about the new Preschool Development Grants program and how your state may apply, visit here. For more information on early learning at the U.S. Department of Education, visit here.

Tiffany Taber is Chief of Staff for Communications Development at the U.S. Department of Education. 

7 Comments

  1. A) The funding is another step in the right direction.
    B) Parent Voices and NACCRA are a statewide parent led movement to get more openings in underserved communities. The national association child care resource and referral agency is the voice for providers at the national level. Every county should have a resource and referral agency where these funds should be directed. These agencies should be set up to meet the needs of providers. Our county has a direct federal relationship which appears to get 1/3 of the funds to providers and families. It appears to be a widespread problem responding to the issue raised by the provider.
    C) To the parent who chooses to stay home, it’s a free country and I’m afraid you will not find any ethical research to support your claims that a child is better off at home with their mother. While I can agree that government interference is never a good thing, the article hardly speaks to such a problem.
    D) I’m specifically hoping these funds will empower young women to be in America as a student in a work experience opportunity.
    Potentially, avoiding child marriages or being forced out of school to prepare for sex trades or in the worst case scenarios we might prevent a young women’s death.

    Avenues in New York describes one world learning for early learning education. Considering teachers and social workers need college credits in child development, it’s a marriage made in heaven.

    Ideally, the funding will empower the tribal nations to build their child care delivery model in a direct federal relationship. From this new direct relationship the communities will have more control over the tribal customs and how these freedoms children have to explore and discover are enabling creativity and have correlations with the Eckers rating scale. Most importantly the ability to celebrate cultural and spiritual values by establishing the relationships through observations without being forced into Westernized ideals which are in direct conflict with family values.

    It’s just another show of commitments to education.

  2. Early education must include parental involvement/training. Middle to low income households with young children will invariably include young, inexperienced/single parents. Parental involvement enhance tbe student’s education experience win-win for all involved

  3. If the program is high quality and fun, and the children enjoy the program, and have freedom to be creative and make new friendships AND skills testing proves they are learning useful information, then the program is succeeding. The majority of these programs are for families that need daycare. Let’s turn these programs into creative, learning opportunities. Children learn by doing, and there are alot of fun activities kids do when they are with other kids: this is an opportunity! (not indoctrination).

  4. I have ran a licensed day care and pre school for the past 30 years, I have
    graduated 4 of my own children in the public/private school and college system. I am an experienced educator, I have my teaching permit, bachelor’s degree. I can tell you from experience that early learning should be mandatory, because it does give the children a head start in learning and social developments. Why should California children be left behind the 8 ball ? The only GRIPE I have is “WHERE’S THE BEEF”, WHEN YOU PUT THE MONIES INTO THE HANDS OF THESE GRANTEES WITH LARGE POCKETS, THE MAJORITY OF THE FUNDS DO NOT TRICKLE DOWN TO THE HARDWORKING PROVIDERS , WHO ARE TAKING CARE OF AMERICAS CHILDREN, GETTING THEM READY FOR kINDERGARDEN, TAKING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CLASSES , GETTING OUR PERMITS, GOING THROUGH YOUR UNIVERSITY RATING SYSTEM (THIS IS MONEY GOVERNMT. HAS THROWN AWAY). WE HAVE NOT GOTTEN A CHILD CARE INCREASE FOR TAKING CARE OF AMERICA’S CHILDREN FOR OVER A DECADE? YES, WHERE IS THE BEEF. SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE NOT PARTNERINGSHIPPING WITH ANY DAY CARE/PRESCHOOL PROVIDERS, THEY’RE KEEPING THE MONEY IN HOUSE! IF I’M WRONG SHOW ME, i’VE BEEN TRYING TO DEVELOPE A PARTNERSHIP WITH LACOE FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS? THANK YOU, FRUSTRATED PROVIDER WITH FUNDING RFP’S.

    • Hello, I “hear” your frustration. I can not speak for your state but in NJ, there are partnerships with private providers. In our city, private preschools has met the needs of children. Partnering with the Department of Education requires strong leaders/advocates to put the collaboration together.

  5. This is so full of lies. Research shows there is NO advantage to early learning/pre-k. These programs undeying agenda is to get kids out from under the influence of parents as early as they can in order to embark on the planned indoctrination. What kids need is for moms to stay home and raise their children and keep them as far away from government indoctrination centers (public education). Home School IS the BEST option for your kids.

    • What is the evidence that supports such biased claims? All the evidence supports early intervention.

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