The Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) program is a $250 million competitive federal grant designed to improve states’ early childhood systems by building upon existing federal, state, and local early care and learning investments. PDG B-5 was established in 2015 through the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
The first year of the PDG B-5 grants, awarded to 46 states in January of 2019, funded state-level needs assessments and strategic planning to optimize existing early childhood education (ECE) 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. This funding offers a unique opportunity for states to consider the full range of programs, services, and funding streams that support children birth through age five and their families.
Prior to ESSA, Congress appropriated funding for a different Preschool Development Grants program, now referred to as Legacy PDG, and the U.S. Department of Education made grants to states in 2015 and 2016. These grants provided much-needed funding for state development and expansion of access to high-quality pre-k for 4-year-olds from low-income backgrounds. PDG B-5 is distinct from Legacy PDG across purpose, eligibility, duration, matching requirements, use of funds, and reporting requirements. The first year of PDG B-5 grants fund state-level strategic planning to facilitate improved birth-through-five learning and care systems. Improved early learning systems will set up more children, especially those from low-income families, to succeed in elementary school and beyond.
While ESSA established the PDG B-5 in statute, funding for the program is contingent on the annual Congressional appropriations process. Congress should increase PDG B-5 funding to allow states to strengthen their efforts toward building strong early learning systems aligned with K-12 education and improve transitions from early learning programs to kindergarten.
After awarding first-year planning grants in January of 2019 to 46 states and territories, in September 2019, the Administration for Children and Families released two funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for the next year of funding for the PDG B-5 program. With these announcements, states and jurisdictions that were awarded first-year planning grants can apply for funding to begin implementing their plans, while states that previously did not receive planning grants may re-apply or apply this year. ACF has indicated it expects to make 23 awards for implementation grants totaling $206 million by December 31, 2019, with the remaining funds going to other states for first-year planning grants.
Current Funding Level: PDG is funded at $250 million for FY19.
FY2020 House Minibus Funding Bill: PDG is funded at $350 million ($100 million increase from FY19).