In an eagerly-anticipated moment for early learning, the U.S. Department of Education revealed its intention to fund additional state-level grants for early learning as part of Race to the Top. We applaud the Administration’s decision to maintain the momentum generated during last year’s competition by continuing state funding for systems-building in early learning. FFYF has long advocated that states are best placed to develop and implement the quality framework that will support the early learning and development needs of our nation’s most vulnerable children, and we’re grateful that the Administration’s actions today continue this important work.

Secretary Duncan’s remarks yesterday before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, and Education supported that a portion of FY12 Race to the Top funds will be directed toward state-level grants for early learning. So what’s next? We’ll be waiting with bated breath for additional details, and we’ll be sure to share them with you as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we’ll take a moment to celebrate today’s positives: the early learning community’s voice was heard. A chorus of stakeholders made a compelling case for early childhood education priorities, and we appreciate the Administration’s positive reception. We thank Congress for reiterating its commitment to early learning, with over 50 members sending letters and making calls to Secretaries Duncan and Sebelius urging them to support state innovations in early learning. Their advocacy echoed and amplified that of vocal leaders in states, cities and the early childhood education and K-12 communities.

More early learning challenges—of both the lower- and upper-case variety—lie ahead for our field, but yesterday’s announcement of state-based grants for early childhood education represents a great victory of which we can all be proud.