Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Raising the Bar: A Glance at Federal Education Funding

“And we should raise the bar when it comes to early learning programs... Today, some early learning programs are excellent. Some are mediocre. And some are wasting what studies show are – by far – a child's most formative years.

That’s why I have issued a challenge to governors: if you match the success of states like Pennsylvania and develop an effective model for early learning; if you focus reform on standards and results in early learning programs; if you demonstrate how you will prepare the lowest income children to meet the highest standards of success – then you can compete for an Early Learning Challenge Grant that will help prepare all our children to enter kindergarten ready to learn."
-President Barack Obama in his remarks to the NAACP, July 2009.

The Early Learning Challenge Fund is just one of the funding opportunities that highlight the Obama Administration's interest in improving early childhood education. There are a number of early childhood education provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which help to reinforce the robust body of evidence that proves a child's learning begins at birth, and takes shape as children are nurtured, challenged, and engaged in high-quality learning environments.

For the past ten years, our network of sites have sought to “raise the bar” when it comes to ensuring that Children are Healthy and Prepared to Succeed in School (CHAPSS). Working alongside local partners, sites have used a variety of strategies and activities to improve outcomes for children and families from early learning efforts aimed at promoting learning and school readiness among young children (0-5) to supporting parents as their children’s first teachers and advocates. Other efforts include a focus on health services, literacy and tutoring, Out-of-School Time (OST) programs and supports for schools and child care providers. Making Connections San Antonio, for example, has implemented early reading interventions for children 3 to 5 years of age as well as the Family and Schools Together (FAST) Program where parents, children, teachers and schools come together to enhance family functioning and communication.

The following American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding opportunities through the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are particularly relevant to states, non-profit entities, and other organizations that have focused on education to improve outcomes for children:

The Early Learning Challenge Fund: provides grants to states to help build comprehensive, high quality learning systems for children birth to age 5 across all early care and learning settings. The Fund helps states to reform early learning standards, establish quality rating and improvement systems, develop systems for early screening, support parents, and build components of a quality early care and education system.

Head Start and Early Head Start: Under ARRA, $2.1 billion will be awarded for Head Start, including $1.1 billion for the expansion of Early Head Start Programs. Head Start funds will be distributed to current grantees by formula while Early Head Start will be distributed by application. Of the Early Head Start funding, up to 10 percent is available for training and technical assistance and up to 3% is available for monitoring.

Child Care and Development Block Grant: With $2 billion provided under ARRA,CCDF provides CCDF Lead Agencies with an important opportunity to assist those most impacted by the recession through the provision of funds to expand services to additional children and families facing difficult economic circumstances. ARRA also provides supplemental targeted funding for investments to improve the quality of child care to support the health and well-being of children.

Title I: Through ARRA, $13 billion will be awarded for Title I grants. Title I provides supplemental education funding, especially in high-poverty areas, for programs that provide extra academic support to help raise student achievement.

Promise Neighborhoods: $210 million will be provided for place-based strategies that would integrate school reform with strong family supports and effective community services across neighborhoods.(To find out more view –Gearing Up for Promise Neighborhoods)

Innovation Fund-I3: provides competitive grants to applicants with a record of improving student achievement in order to expand the implementation of, and the investment in, innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement and promoting school readiness.

Race to the Top: provides competitive grants that reward state agencies pushing for classroom innovation and boosting student achievement. Awards in Race to the Top will go to States that are leading the way with ambitious yet achievable plans for implementing coherent, compelling, and comprehensive education.

American Graduation Initiative: provides grants to help increase student completion of certificates and degrees leading to employment in high demand occupations, particularly for students from underrepresented populations including low income, dislocated workers, and low-skill adults.

We invite you to view additional resources:

Financing Strategies for Early Care and Education, National Child Care and Information and Technological Assistance Center

Finding Funding: Supporting Making Connections Core Result that Children are Healthy and Prepared to Succeed in School, Finance Project

Economic Recovery: Reinvesting in Child Care, Center for Law and Social Policy

Maximizing Resources from the Stimulus Package, The Alliance for Early Childhood Finance

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