The Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) is a new, $250 million, competitive federal grant opportunity authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – all 56 states, territories and states were eligible to apply.

We now know that a whopping 47 jurisdictions submitted applications for grants! Previously, only 36 states applied for the Legacy Preschool Development Grants program administered by the Department of Education under the Obama administration.

The new PDG B-5 grants are designed to support improvements to states’ existing early childhood landscape by building upon existing federal, state and local early care and learning investments. This grant program 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.

Year one of the PDG B-5 is intended to support optimization of existing ECE resources by funding a state level needs assessment and strategic plan. The grants focus on three major activities:

  1. Maximize parent choice and knowledge about the State’s mixed delivery system of existing programs and providers.
  2. Improve transitions within early care and learning programs and with elementary schools, by encouraging the sharing of best practices among early childhood education program providers in the State in an effort to increase collaboration and efficiency of services.,
  3. Improve overall quality of early childhood education programs in the State, including by developing and implementing evidence-based practices to improve professional development for early childhood education providers and educational opportunities for children.

The Departments of Health & Human Services in coordination with the Department of Education are presently reviewing applications, and the review process is expected to be completed on Tuesday, December 4. The states and territories that are selected to receive awards will be notified before December 31, 2018. States and territories that receive this first year of funding  will be tasked with conducting a needs assessments and developing strategic plans to facilitate collaboration and coordination among existing early childhood care and education programs.

When ESSA became law in December of 2015, it authorized the creation of this new Preschool Development Grant (PDG) program, demonstrating a deliberate effort to foster connections across early learning programs and between the early learning and K-12 systems within states.

The name “Preschool Development Grant” was previously used for similar federal grants (Legacy PDG) created by the Obama administration and issued under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The new PDG B-5 grants are an innovative bipartisan program created by Congress, and are distinct across purpose, eligibility, duration, matching requirements, use of funds and reporting requirements.

Stay tuned for further updates on the PDG B-5.