The federal Preschool Development Grants are back, but they offer substantive differences from the legacy program created during the Obama administration. The grant application…allows states the opportunity to apply for a share of $250 million to bolster their preschool programs. But while the original program set aside some funds for states that were basically starting from scratch, this new program wants to see “collaboration and coordination” among existing programs. The administration expects to make around 40 awards of $500,000 to $15 million. Applications are due by November, and awards are expected to be announced by December.
The 18 states that received federal Preschool Development Grants have collectively worked to increase the number of high-quality slots available for children from low- and moderate-income families. The grants have provided about $250 million a year over four years to the states. States have used the money in a variety of areas, including increasing program length from half-day to full-day; limiting class size and decreasing staff-child ratios; providing teacher coaching, and adding comprehensive services to programs. The progress report said that an additional 49,000 children benefitted from those quality initiatives. Of those improved slots, about 29,000 were also completely new, meaning those children had access to pre-K who didn’t have it before.
If the plan reaches fruition, Chicago would join cities such as New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston, which are spearheading large-scale pre-K initiatives amid uneven state progress and a growing arsenal of research touting the benefits of early education. While 43 states currently offer some form of state-funded preschool for more than 1.5 million children, only a handful can be accurately described as “universal.” Universal pre-K is free and open to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status. Bipartisan backing for state-funded pre-K — universal or not — has strengthened in recent years as research has affirmed the cognitive and social benefits of quality early education instruction.
Texas pre-K programs are just scraping by after losing millions of dollars last year — and without sustainable funding, they could see greater problems down the line, school officials say…The money had gone to 573 districts and charter schools that pledged to meet measures such as setting a lower student-teacher ratio, avoiding Common Core curricula and reporting student progress to the state.
An early-childhood education advocacy group has released a new report on how states are using the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, to leverage federal support for early learning. The report is the latest component of what the First Five Years Fund calls an ESSA resource toolkit. Entitled, “Early Learning In State ESSA Plans – Implementation Snapshot: How States Are Using the Law,” it breaks down how each state plans to either launch new early-childhood initiatives or increase their current offerings.
According to Larry Miller’s presentation, school districts spend roughly $15,000 per child on education, but early childhood centers spend between $2,000 and $4,000 per child. That disparity means early education centers have longer waiting lists to attend, teachers who quit because they earn more at McDonalds and children receive fewer hours in care.
Utah: Granite is the first district in the nation to be financed by private investors who pay upfront for preschool seats, and make a profit if enough of the district’s “at-risk” kids succeed. The controversial financing tool, often referred to as a social impact bond, has allowed this cash-strapped district, one of five in the Salt Lake City area, to provide high-quality early education to thousands of poor 3- and 4-year-olds who might have otherwise stayed home.
Significant expansion would be costly. About 62,000 low-income children are eligible for the free NC Pre-K, and about 47 percent of them are being served. The legislature last year funded 3,500 additional slots, which will cost $27 million over two years. Goodnight said the added money will mean about 50 percent of disadvantaged children will be covered, and about 75 percent coverage is about all that’s possible given parent interest. Another challenge is on the horizon. Some schools face a space crunch for pre-K classrooms due to legislative mandates to reduce class size in early grades.
Usually, city preschool measures get funded through a dedicated city tax. For example, Denver and San Antonio have expanded access to pre-K through revenues from sales tax. Seattle does so through a property tax, while Philadelphia uses a tax on sodas. In San Francisco and Wake County, North Carolina, local leaders dedicated funding from the city or county’s general revenues to pre-K programs.
Most of the ten states provide funding for pre-K via general revenue funds, but a few use lottery funding…By contrast, the three states with the lowest levels of total funding (Nebraska, Ohio, and South Carolina) also enrolled the fewest children. An increase in total funding and consideration of funding sources in addition to the state’s general revenue fund are recommended for expanding access to pre-K in Indiana. This may include funding options available through federal grant.