I. Grants to States to Expand High-Quality Preschool
For states that have state-funded preschool and quality standards, there would be grants to expand the state’s work both in quality and access for four-year olds from low- and moderate- income families. Under these state-federal partnership grants, states would be able to accelerate their work to provide high-quality preschool for four-year olds in families earning at or below 200 percent of poverty with these funds. The amount each state could receive would be determined by a formula.
These new funds would be used to serve four-year-olds whose families have incomes at or below 200 percent of poverty. Once a state or locality has served all of its eligible four-year-olds, it can use federal funds to serve three-year-olds in families with incomes at or below 200 percent of poverty.
States must submit an application with the following information:
- Comprehensive early learning and development standards/guidelines;
- Data systems that are or will be linked with K-12 data systems;
- State-funded kindergarten;
- A State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education & Care and coordination among the various early childhood sectors and settings; and
- Comprehensive early learning assessments that are consistent with the recommendations of the National Academies of Sciences including prohibitions on inappropriate high-stakes uses.
State’s contribution to the partnership
States would continue to invest in preschool to draw down the federal grant. States must provide matching funds equal to 10 percent of federal funding in the first and second years, 20 percent in the third year, 30 percent in the fourth year, 40 percent in the fifth year, 50 percent in the sixth year, 75 percent in the seventh year, and 100 percent in the eighth and following years. States that serve at least half of their eligible four-year-olds qualify for a reduced match rate. Up to 10 percent of prekindergarten funding already being provided by the state as of the enactment of the legislation may be counted toward the state match (if the funds are not being used as matching funds for any other federal program).
State uses of the funds
In addition to expanding preschool services, states can use up to 20% of the grant to help improve quality, including provision of scholarships, release time and other supports to help teachers meet the teacher degree requirement and for ongoing professional development.
States can use up to 15 percent of this grant for high-quality early care and education for infants and toddlers from families with incomes at or below 200 percent of poverty. States may use the grant funds for providers serving infants and toddlers that offer full-day, full-year care or otherwise address the needs of working families and that meet Early Head Start or nationally recognized accreditation standards.
Local delivery and requirements for providers
States would direct the funds locally to child care, Head Start, local educational agencies or consortia of local school districts and community early childhood providers that meet the high-quality standards, which include:
- Teachers in the preschool classroom with a BA in early childhood education or BA and demonstrate competence in early childhood education;
- Class sizes and child-staff ratios that are “evidence-based”;
- Full-school-day schedule;
- Curricula and learning environments that are evidence-based and aligned with the state’s early learning and development standards;
- Teacher salaries comparable to those for K-12 teachers;
- Ongoing monitoring and program evaluation for continuous improvement;
- Comprehensive services ( including nutritious meals and snacks and nutrition education; screenings, referrals, and assistance with accessing services for vision, dental, health, and development; family engagement opportunities; and physical activity programs);
- Professional development for all staff; and
- Health and safety standards.
II. Early Learning Quality Partnerships
Another separate set of grants would be provided to Early Head Start agencies to partner with center-based and family child care providers, particularly those receiving funds under the Child Care and Development Block Grant to expand high-quality programs for children from birth through age three. The purpose of the grant is to help them meet Early Head Start standards. Priority would be given to applicants that coordinate with other federally and state-funded home visiting, child care, and prekindergarten programs in order to create a continuum of services from birth to school entry.
III. Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting
The bill expresses support for continuing voluntary home visiting programs to promote maternal and child health, improve school readiness, prevent child abuse and neglect, and to coordinate resources and supports for families.