On Friday, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), in coordination with the Department of Education, released two funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for the next year of funding for the $250 million Preschool Development Grants Birth through Five (PDG B-5) program. With these announcements, states and jurisdictions that were awarded first-year planning grants in 2019 can apply for funding to begin implementing their plans, while states that did not receive planning grants may re-apply or apply this year.
In December 2015, PDGs were authorized as part of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The grants demonstrate a deliberate effort to foster connections across early learning programs and between early learning and K-12 education systems within states. The goal of PDG B-5 is to help states: maximize parental choice, improve transitions within early learning and care programs, and improve the overall quality of programs within each state.
Last year, 46 states and jurisdictions were awarded initial grants to conduct a needs assessment and strategic plan for their early learning systems. The awards for these initial “planning grants” ranged from $538,000 and $10.6 million. Now, those states can apply for “renewal grants” that would fund implementation efforts based on their plans. The renewal grants have an estimated total of $206,000,000, and ACF expects to make 23 awards.
The renewal grants are meant to build on the work that states accomplished during year one, and will assist states in the coordination of their existing early childhood services and funding streams in order to serve more children effectively in the mixed delivery system. Earlier this month, FFYF and other advocates sent a letter to ACF outlining recommendations for the renewal FOA. The recommendations included: continuity of funding levels, encouraging partner engagement, and providing technical support to states.
The renewal grant FOA maintains an emphasis on stakeholder engagement and empowering an effective mixed-delivery early learning system to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and families. The FOA for the renewal grants requires states to update their strategic plan at least once during the renewal period and evaluate program performance.
States and territories that did not receive the initial planning grants in fiscal year 2018 are able to apply for planning grants in FY19. This applies to the following jurisdictions: Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These grant awards have an estimated total of $36,500,000.
Additionally, Tennessee, which received a Legacy Preschool Development Grant – a previous, but now defunct iteration of the Preschool Development Grants program – is eligible to apply for either a planning or renewal grant this year.