This posting is from the ZERO TO TREE Federal Policy
Baby Blog. I am reposting it here because it is of vital
importance to all users and friends of Beginnings Guides.
The federal government is looking to you as experts on
the ground to guide implementation and distribution
of $500 Million in new funding for home visiting and
other programs supporting early childhood development
and learning. Funding is to be distributed as grants to states
by the end of 2011. What elements should
programs be required to include? What outcomes
should be reported? How should success be measured?
What instruments should be used? Use the link below to
comment. Be a voice for those you serve.
Early Learning Challenge Receives $500 Million
In a major step forward for young children, Arne Duncan
and Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretaries of Education and
Health and Human Services, announced today that they will
dedicate $500 million to the Race to the Top Early Learning
Challenge (RTT-ELC). The funds are part of a $700 million
boost for the Race to the Top fund provided in the final 2011
federal funding bill. Comments by speakers at the briefing made
clear that infants and toddlers are a key focus within this new
early childhood initiative.
The two Departments will jointly administer the program,
which is intended to increase the number of low-income or
disadvantaged children, birth to five, in high-quality early
childhood settings and create and enhance state
integrated systems. State initiatives will cut across
early childhood settings and funding streams to improve
quality. Home visiting programs, so important
for reaching at-risk infants and toddlers who are not in
out-of-home early care arrangements, are clearly intended to be
part of the mix.
While the announcement did not include information about
how many grants will be awarded or the criteria that will be
used in the competition, the Departments of Education and
Health and Human Services will be seeking input and encourage
all interested parties to
pertaining to the RTT-ELC competition. It is important that
practitioners and stakeholders knowledgeable about infants and
toddlers weigh in on how the new initiative should be shaped.
The Departments have indicated that the Notice of Application
for RTT-ELC will come out late this summer.
Showing the broad support for early childhood education from a
variety of sectors, the announcement also included speakers
from philanthropy, law enforcement, and the military, all
emphasizing that investment in our very youngest children is
the key to future success. In particular, George Kaiser,President
and CEO of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, highlighted
the need to start with infants and toddlers. He noted that less
than 5% of children eligible for Early Head Start services are
receiving them. He also pointed to this new Early Learning Challenge
as an opportunity to help ensure that we expand access to services
like Early Head Start through public and private partnerships.
Ralph Smith, Executive Vice President of the Annie E.
Casey Foundation, talked about RTT-ELC as a call to action
in states and communities to do more and to do better for our most
vulnerable citizens: our very youngest children.
The U.S. Department of Education also revealed that
the nine finalist states that did not win grants in the first
two rounds of Race to the Top will be
eligible to compete for $200 million (out of the total $700
million included in the 2011 CR) in additional funds this year.