(A)(3) Organizing and aligning the early learning and development system to achieve success

The extent to which the State has established, or has a High-Quality Plan to establish, strong participation and a governance structure that will facilitate interagency system-wide coordination or integration to support and enable streamlined decision-making, allocation of resources, and sustainability by--

  1. Demonstrating how the Participating State Agencies and other partners, if any, will work together and govern themselves both during and after the period of the grant, including:
    1. The organizational structure for managing the grant;
    2. The roles and responsibilities of the State Lead Agency, the State Advisory Council, each Participating State Agency, the State's Interagency Coordinating Council for Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1441 et seq.), and other partners, if any;
    3. The method and process for making different types of decisions (e.g., policy, operational) and resolving disputes; and
    4. The plan for when and how to involve representatives from Participating Programs, Early Childhood Educators or their representatives, families, and other key stakeholders
  2. Demonstrating that the Participating State Agencies are strongly committed to the State Plan, to the governance structure, and to effective implementation of the State Plan, by including in the Memoranda of Understanding or other binding agreements--
    1. Terms and conditions that reflect a strong commitment to the State Plan by each Participating State Agency, including by aligning and leveraging the Participating State Agency's existing funding to support the State Plan;
    2. "Scope-of-work" descriptions that require the Participating State Agency to implement all applicable portions of the State Plan, including a description of efforts to maximize the number of Early Learning and Development Programs that become Participating Programs, (especially those that are in the Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System); and
    3. A signature from an authorized representative of the Participating State Agency; and
  3. Demonstrating understanding of and commitment to the State Plan, from a broad group of stakeholders and local communities, that translate into broad statewide impact and will enable the State to reach its ambitious yet achievable goals as outlined in Selection Criterion (A)(1), including--
    1. Strong letters of intent or actions of support from Early Learning Intermediary Organizations and, local early learning councils, if applicable; and
    2. Letters or actions of support from such other stakeholders as Early Childhood Educators or their representatives, the State's legislators; local community leaders; State and local union affiliates; faith-based organizations; other State and local leaders (e.g., business, community, tribal, civil rights, and education association leaders); family and community organizations (e.g., parent councils, nonprofit organizations, local foundations, tribal organizations, and community-based organizations); and postsecondary institutions.

Comments

PACER Center suggests the following to strengthen family engagement in the applications:

(A)(3) a.(iv); families should be involved in all aspects of the planning process
(A)(3)c.(ii);Family and community organizations should be involved from the very beginning of the planning so underrepresented families an organizations have meaningful involvement in all aspects of the planning process

Heather Kilgore
Public Policy Director
PACER Center
(952) 838-9000

(A)(3)
Setting up interagency governance structures is one of the most common duplicative tasks that States and communities take on for different funding streams, resulting in multiple interagency governance structures which then must be aligned with each other. Recommendations:

  • (A)(3)(a)(i) after: “The organizational structure for managing the grant,” add: “and how this structure builds upon existing interagency governance structures such as children’s cabinets, councils and commissions, if any already exist and are effective.”
  • (A)(3)(a)(iv) after: “The plan for when and how to involve… key stakeholders,” add: “and how this plan builds upon existing efforts to engage key stakeholders, if any already exist and are effective.”
  • (A)(3)(c)(i) after: “Strong letters of intent or actions of support from… early learning councils,” add “children’s cabinets, councils, commissions and other interagency child and youth coordinating bodies.”

Eligibility – we suggest that any comprehensive plan have the demonstrated involvement of the state's licensing director, and explicitly includes the licensing system (including where a state’s licensing system is a sub-part or component of larger agencies that are partnering in the submission.)

CSSP and the Alliance recommend that States be required to include parent representatives in a formal advisory or decision-making capacity within the Early Learning and Development System’s governance structure at the State level. This can take the form of a formal Parent Advisory Committee, inclusion of parents on a broader stakeholder advisory committee, inclusion of parents as members of the State Advisory Council, etc. States may be encouraged to provide multiple opportunities to ensure a diversity of parent voices.
We applaud the inclusion of “family and community organizations (e.g., parent councils, nonprofit organizations, local foundations, tribal organizations, and community based organizations)” among stakeholders from whom letters of support are required.

Signed,
Frank Farrow, Director, Center for the Study of Social Policy
Judy Langford, Senior Fellow and Director, Strengthening Families Initiative, Center for the Study of Social Policy
Teresa Rafael, Executive Director, National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds

On behalf of the Office of the Governor of the State of Illinois, the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Human Services: The proposed selection criteria focus on the establishment of a governance structure that is State agency driven, and require that commitments by local communities and organizations be shown through statements of support. While we agree that alignment and coordination across State agencies is critical, the competition also needs to include a strong role for local partnerships to effectively implement the State plan. Our experience has shown that collaboration at the local level across various early childhood programs, organizations and stakeholders is necessary for children and families to experience seamless, coordinated services. We therefore recommend that the governance structure requirements focus on the establishment of community-based collaborations and partnerships to carry out the State plan, in a manner aligned to a State-wide governance structure.

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is appreciative of the hard work reflected in the development of the criteria for this competitive grant process. Given the opportunity to review the document, CDF submits the following comment:

Local school boards have authority over local decisions related to expenditure of Title I funds, the cutting or expansion of programs such as pre-k and full-day kindergarten and use of local, state and federal funds for the purpose of developing an early learning continuum. Given this role and in order to help further the goals and objectives of the RTT-ELC priorities, CDF recommends that “Early Learning Intermediary Organizations” be defined to include local school boards.

Cathy Grace
Children’s Defense Fund
Director, Early Childhood Development

The section should include K-3 stakeholders in plans for organizing and aligning states’ early learning and development system. The criteria ask states to demonstrate how state agencies and partners will work together but omits any mention of elementary schools or other K-3 stakeholders in the planning process. The criteria under A (3)(iv) should explicitly encourage states to include stakeholders with ties to elementary schools, such as school boards, principals, school district curricula directors, and kindergarten and early grades teachers.

A full letter of recommendations and comments from the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation can be found at http://earlyed.newamerica.net/publications/resources/2011/comments_on_dr...

With thanks,
Lisa Guernsey
Director, Early Education Initiative
New America Foundation