Washington, D.C. – In response to today’s U.S. Department of Education and Health and Human Services announcement that all 18 states awarded Preschool Development Grants will receive their third year of continuation funds, Kris Perry, Executive Director of the First Five Years Fund (FFYF), released the following statement:
“The Preschool Development Grant program supports low-income and working American families by helping states build, improve, and promote access to high-quality early childhood education. Leaders from both parties – including Vice President-elect Mike Pence during his time as Governor of Indiana – have shown widespread support for preschool and early learning opportunities. We look forward to working with the next administration and Congress to fund and implement the new Preschool Development Grant program and other programs that expand high-quality early learning access in local communities.”
The new administration and Congress have an opportunity to leverage this grant program to help support state efforts to improve the delivery of high-quality childhood learning to their most vulnerable citizens. Then-Gov. Pence wrote to HHS earlier this year about the importance of building on the opportunity of the PDGs to continue the work states have endeavored to provide high-quality preschool for children from low-income backgrounds. As the transition from legacy PDGs to ESSA PDGs approaches, funding will be needed to implement the newly authorized program.
About The Preschool Development Grants: The new Preschool Development Grants (PDGs) were included in the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act and have great promise in helping to support state and local efforts birth through five.
The Preschool Development Grants program’s comprehensive needs assessment and focus on promoting close collaboration within communities, including leveraging existing State Advisory Councils on Early Childhood Education and Care, will ensure existing federal, state, and local resources are used effectively to promote quality and parental choice. Coupled with the program’s other core provisions, including encouraging thoughtful strategic planning and promoting sharing of best practices among early childhood education program providers, will make a positive difference for the nation’s youngest learners and their families.
These grants have shared bipartisan support in Congress and across the country. Initially, 36 Governors submitted applications to bolster their own efforts. Ultimately, 5 states were awarded Development Grants, and 13 states were awarded Expansion Grants. Last appropriations cycle, the National Governors Association (NGA) penned a letter urging congress to enhance state early learning programs, specifically Preschool Development Grants, as part of FY 2016 appropriations. In their letter, Governor Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Governor Robert Bentley (R-AL) tell members of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education why the grants are crucial to providing services for our youngest learners. You can read the full letter here.
About the First Five Years Fund: The First Five Years Fund helps America achieve better results in education, health, and economic productivity through investments in quality early childhood education programs for disadvantaged children. FFYF provides knowledge, data, and advocacy – persuading federal policymakers to make investments in the first five years of a child’s life that create greater returns for all. http://www.ffyf.org