The Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) program is a $275 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 grants encourage states to focus on five major activities: aligning existing programs, maximizing parental choice, building on the success of existing programs, fostering partnerships among stakeholders and leveraging data for continued improvement. This funding offers unique opportunities for states to consider the full range of programs, services and funding streams that support children from birth through age 5 and their families and empowers states to improve their systems.
In December 2018, 46 states received initial one-year grants to conduct a state-level needs assessment and create a strategic plan that optimizes existing early childhood education (ECE) resources. Due to overwhelming interest from states, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) negotiated with 39 of the 46 grantees to reduce their scope of work and take reduced funding to provide more states with grant opportunities.
In December 2019, after an incredibly competitive review process, ACF awarded 20 renewal grants out of the 46 initial grant recipients. Additionally, six new states and territories were awarded initial planning grants.
Recognizing the potential impact and the tremendous interest from states and territories, Congress appropriated an additional $25 million in funding for PDG B-5 as a part of the FY2020 budget. With this new funding, ACF was able to extend three additional renewal grants in the spring of 2020. In December 2020, five of the six states and territories that received an initial grant in 2019 were awarded a renewal grant, bringing the total number of implementation grants to 28.
While ESSA established the PDG B-5 in statute, funding for the program is contingent on the annual Congressional appropriations process. As states and territories launch and sustain their implementation efforts, continued Congressional support is imperative and will allow states to implement their plans with fidelity.
In December of 2019, 20 states and territories were awarded three-year renewal grants to implement the strategic plans they developed using first-year planning grants awarded in 2018. Additionally, six states and territories that did not previously receive PDG B-5 funding were awarded initial planning grants to complete needs assessments and strategic plans.
On April 29, 2020, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced that South Carolina, Nebraska and Kansas were awarded three-year renewal grants because of the additional funding appropriated by Congress in FY2020. In December of 2020, five of the states and territories that received an initial grant in 2019 were awarded a renewal grant. These additional awards brought the total renewal grants to 28 states. A summary of funding amounts for both the initial and renewal grants is available here.
Current Funding Level: PDG is funded at $275 million for FY2021, which is level with FY2020.
Note: Prior to ESSA, Congress appropriated funding for a different Preschool Development Grants program, now referred to as the 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. While the Legacy PDG helped grantees expand early learning, PDG B-5 is distinct from Legacy PDG across purpose, eligibility, duration, matching requirements, use of funds and reporting requirements.