81 Democratic and Republican members of the House of Representatives have united in urging the House Appropriations Committee to increase funding for the new Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) program.
The “Dear Colleague” letter, led by Rep. John Katko (R-NY-24) and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) and announced at FFYF’s Congressional PDG briefing earlier this month, touts the benefits of the PDG B-5 program and asks that funding be increased from $250 million to $400 million in the upcoming FY2020 appropriations process.
Created as part of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December of 2015, PDG B-5 is a competitive federal grant program that supports states and territories as they work to improve their existing early childhood systems. PDG B-5 affirms both the importance of early learning in advancing equal access to education and the central role of states in leading early childhood coordination and quality efforts.
This program is small but mighty, and joins an arsenal of critical federal programs including Early Head Start, Head Start, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, which all help to address the early care and learning needs of children and their families across the country.
The first year of PDG B-5 funding, awarded in December of 2018, is supporting state-level needs assessments and strategic planning to optimize existing early childhood education resources. The grants focus on three major activities: maximizing parental choice, improving transitions within early care and learning programs and with elementary schools; and improving overall quality of ECE programs.
Due to the substantial number of states that applied for PDG B-5 funding, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) decided to award as many first-year planning grants as possible, ultimately awarding grants to 46 states and territories that range from $538,000 to $10.6 million. In order to fund the 46 states, the majority of applicants were not fully funded. And 39 states and territories had to revise their scopes of work and received approximately 71% of their original grant award request.
HHS has indicated that, due to the overwhelming participation, not all states will receive implementation grants at the program’s current funding level. Therefore, increased federal funding of this program is critical to ensure the 46 states and territories awarded planning grants can move forward with implementation.
Click here to learn more about the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five program.