Parents and early education providers are in a unique position right now. We have the opportunity to help, encourage, push our State’s to increase their investment in Early Education & Child Care. Legislation passed on September 18th (H.R. 3221, or the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009,) allocates over $1 billion per year for the next 8 years to Early Education. Every dollar moving into Early Education is a step in the right direction, so we are very excited to see this happen, although we would always like to see the investment be higher.
The Bill allocates the $1 billion per year to States in two areas, based on the following guidelines.
QUALITY PATHWAYS GRANTS, as awards to high-capacity states pursuing models of reform and excellence in early learning. Innovative plans would already reflect significant progress toward establishing the elements of a comprehensive, high quality early learning system needed to improve quality and learning outcomes for children, and a desire to take such improvements to scale
- DEVELOPMENT GRANTS, as awards to a set of states that show promise for strengthening and expanding their early learning systems, but need additional assistance to launch a standards-based, outcomes-driven system. see ed.gov
This funding is on top of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Feb 09), which included $5 billion for Early Childhood. This Bill is directing funds toward Head Start, early Head Start, preschool grants, child care grants, and special infant programs.
Not all States will benefit equally from this funding, however, and likely several will not receive any help. So, as parents, child care providers, and preschool educators we can influence where this money flows. Contact your State’s Department of Education and Governor and find out what they are doing to receive these funds and what programs they intend on funding. Politics aside, Early Education has significantly trailed other areas of education investment even as research continues to demonstrate its important role in education and career achievement. Funds are coming and we need to make sure they are put to good use.