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Preschool Development Grants Boosted Access to High-Quality Care, Report Says

The 18 states that received federal Preschool Development Grants have collectively worked to increase the number of high-quality slots available for children from low- and moderate-income families, according to the latest progress report on the grant program released by the U.S. Department of Education. 

The grantee states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. They have used the funds either to start or expand state-run pre-K programs.

The grants have provided about $250 million a year over four years to the states. The progress report said that states have used the money in a variety of areas, including increasing program length from half-day to full-day; limiting class size and decreasing staff-child ratios; providing teacher coaching, and adding comprehensive services to programs. The progress report said that an additional 49,000 children benefitted from those quality initiatives. 

Of those improved slots, about 29,000 were also completely new, meaning those children had access to pre-K who didn't have it before. 


This progress report, covering the 2017 calendar year, marks the last period that the Preschool Development Grants exist in this form. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 made major changes to the program.

The new version of Preschool Development Grants now operate out of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in consulation with the Education Department. The grants will now focus on program coordination, quality and access, but no longer require some of the same provisions that the original program did. For example, the new grant program forbids the federal government from mandating that state programs operate for a full day or that teachers have a bachelor's degree.

A description of the new Preschool Development Grant program also says that the money, estimated at about $240 million, cannot be used to create new programs. "Funds are for states to help coordinate early care and learning programs and services that already exist based on identified needs," says a funding notice, which alerts states about new grants. The full grant details are scheduled for release in mid-August. 

Image source: U.S. Department of Education

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