In recent days, FFYF joined with advocates to provide recommendations to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) concerning the Preschool Development Grants Birth through Five (PDG B-5) program Year 2 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). The upcoming FOA will allow states and jurisdictions to apply for initial or renewal funding, totaling $250 million, to further improve state early learning and care systems. The recommendations incorporate congressional intent for the program, as well as input received from states who received Year 1 PDG funding, that would contribute to the future success of PDG B-5.
PDG B-5 was authorized as part of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and focuses on three central goals: maximizing parental choice, improving transitions within early learning and care programs, and improving the overall quality of programs within each state. Last year, 47 jurisdictions applied for PDG B-5 funding, and although ACF initially intended to award only 40 grants, due to the significant interest, 46 states and jurisdictions received grants to conduct a needs assessment and strategic plan for their early learning systems. Upon the release of the FOA, those states can apply for renewal grants that would fund implementation efforts based on their plan.
The recommendations for the Year 2 FOA are focused on ensuring grant funds are used to support long-term, systemwide improvements. Specifically, one recommendation suggests ACF include as much information as possible in the FOA about funding levels in subsequent years to allow states to strategically place funds where they will be most useful in building a sustainable network of services. Additionally, the FOA should encourage meaningful engagement with early childhood partners and stakeholders to draw on all the relevant expertise in the field and create an inclusive system of care. Finally, the FOA should account for the fact that states are progressing at different speeds due to the need to revise their original plans, delays in receiving funding, or both. Consequently, the letter encourages the emphasis of Year 2 awards to be on the vision and feasibility of success, rather than a somewhat arbitrary timeline of task completion from Year 1. The full text of the letter appears below.
PDG B-5 has given the majority of states a unique opportunity to build on previous years of effort, to inventory the availability and quality of programs, and to think strategically about how to optimize those resources. As Round 2 begins, FFYF is excited to see how states are able to implement their plans and will remain committed to working with ACF and our advocacy partners to support the program’s success.