The BUILD Initiative, ZERO TO THREE, and Start Early, recently released a new brief highlighting the strategies states are using to improve governance processes in their Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) Renewal applications. This brief highlights how PDG B-5 is being used to build the capacity of early care and education (ECE) systems, create infrastructure, provide direct services, and pilot new work in order to improve governance processes. Their analysis found that states are employing different pilot programs and temporary strategies that are moving the needle in their states, but more federal funding is needed to ensure that they can see this work come to fruition and support young children and their families.
PDG B-5 is a competitive federal grant designed to improve states’ ECE systems. In 2023, 21 states were awarded Planning Grants, and 21 states were awarded Renewal Grants. While the scope of work for planning grantees is to conduct comprehensive needs assessments and draft strategic plans, the renewal grantees focus on implementing their strategic plan. The 21 renewal grantees are using this infusion of federal funding across a wide range of content areas in their ECE systems, and in a variety of ways, such as by implementing compensation reforms, expanding professional development training, building the supply of child care, and streamlining administrative requirements.
In analyzing PDG B-5 Renewal Grant applications, BUILD found that states have been charting their own course when it comes to ECE system development by working on a variety of projects and initiatives at once. They found that states tend to focus on shorter-term projects for their renewal grants, perhaps because states do not see PDG B-5 as a reliable, continuous funding stream and lack confidence that state funding would be available to sustain the work. States may also be focusing on producing near-term results, or the broad framework of the grant may have led to more responsive strategies.
Governance processes, which refer to how decisions are made and who contributes to decision-making, are critical to the development of state ECE systems. The PDG B-5 Renewal application requires states to address the process of governance, specifically on issues of participation in and contribution to decision-making by a variety of constituents who are impacted by choices that state agencies make.
The contribution of many partners, including families and providers, is essential as states work to attain an equitable, fair, and just approach to ECE. However, there are a variety of barriers that often exist for family members and providers who are asked to contribute their time and expertise to be able to do so, and effective participation takes intentional effort by everyone involved. For example, issues such as meeting time and location should be addressed to ensure effective participation. The applications demonstrate that states understand there is more work to do to ensure family members and early childhood workforce members contribute to and participate in governance processes. BUILD notes that states can act more as a facilitator as they recognize the need for more voices in planning, policy, and implementation and move towards participatory decision-making.
According to BUILD’s analysis, PDG B-5 Renewal plans were most likely to improve governance processes across five areas:
- Advisory Council Representation
- Family Voice in State Policy and Implementation
- State Agency Partnerships
- Community Systems Building
Within these five areas, BUILD found that states are adopting 18 strategies, including expanding access, providing support and training to providers, creating family child care networks, developing comprehensive inventories of early childhood programs, and focusing on Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCPs), among many others.
PDG B-5 Renewal grants provide an opportunity for states to create supportive, targeted strategies. Click here to read more about all of the strategies that states are pursuing and read on to see a few examples directly from BUILD of how states are using PDG B-5 renewal grant funds to improve ECE governance processes.
Advisory Council Representation
All states responded affirmatively to prompts in the federal PDG B-5 Renewal guidance about using their state early childhood advisory council in their PDG B-5 Renewal work.
- Massachusetts and New Mexico noted that they would be using multiple advisory groups to assist with PDG B-5 Renewal. Massachusetts named a new Family Advisory Council and existing Workforce Advisory Council, and State Early Childhood Advisory Council. New Mexico noted its Tribal Advisory Council, Family Leadership Council, and Early Childhood Education and Care Advisory Council, indicating that use of all three of these bodies would also meet its equity goals.
Family Voice in State Policy and Implementation
States are proposing several different strategies to engage families in the design and implementation of state policy. But the use of Family Advisory Councils is a strategy that stands out amongst all of them.
- Arkansas, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Montana are creating new Family Advisory Councils; New Mexico, Ohio and Vermont are leveraging existing Family Advisory Councils. Arkansas, Utah, and Vermont explicitly note that they are compensating families to participate with direct funding or gift cards.
State Agency Partnerships
For many states, the work of PDG B-5 Renewal grants spans more than one state agency, and some states addressed how they plan to work across their organizations to ensure that they are making the most of intra-agency opportunities, whether they are sharing information (networking), sharing plans and looking to cooperate in planning or implementing, or co-designing and actively collaborating on PDG B-5 Renewal work.
- Idaho is partnering with Wonderschool to develop a platform simplifying application, eligibility, and enrollment processes for families seeking home-based care, and to provide family child care providers with an online portal featuring support features for cost and revenue analysis.
Community Systems Building
The PDG B-5 Renewal plans show that a few states called out a community dimension to their systems-building approach. There are different ways that states are working with communities as part of an intentional approach to systems building for ECE.
- Alaska is designing and implementing awareness campaigns, which focus on making comprehensive inventories of ECE programs accessible to the public, organized by community and by region. By boosting public awareness, Alaska aims to empower families to make well-informed decisions about their children’s education and ensure that a greater number of families can take advantage of high-quality ECE services.
PDG B-5 Renewal plans all have a section dedicated to discussing sustainability, and many states have listed multiple strategies.
- Montana is building on its existing 14 EHS-CCP sites and 10 providers by offering stipends to licensed programs and EHSs currently participating in the partnership. These stipends will support continued participation, quarterly convening, and potential slot expansion, ensuring that more infants and toddlers from low-income families have access to high-quality child care services.
Throughout 2023, BUILD will continue to produce briefs highlighting how states are using PDG B-5 renewal grants, focusing on the following strategies: Workforce Compensation, Supporting Multilingual Learners, Career Pathways, Mixed Delivery Systems, and Financing.
This is part of a larger blog series, find the rest of our PDG series here.