Public Comment Sought for New Preschool Development Grants Competition


The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services held an informational technical assistance Webinar on the jointly-administered Preschool Development Grants competition on Monday, May 12th, from 3:00-4:00p.m. EDT. Listen and watch the webinar and download the slides.

Thank you for your interest in the Preschool Development Grants competition, which will be jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (ED, HHS, or Departments). The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (Appropriations Act) provides $250 million for a new competition to support efforts to build, develop, and expand voluntary, high-quality preschool programs.  Competition requirements, priorities, and selection criteria will be developed consistent with the language in the Appropriations Act and accompanying report language, which can be found here.

The Preschool Development Grants competition will prepare more States to become ready to participate in the proposed Preschool for All program in the Department of Education’s FY2015 budget request.  Recent and longstanding research indicates that children who attend high-quality preschool programs achieve significant, positive short- and long-term outcomes, and the return on investment that results from attending high-quality preschool programs is overwhelmingly clear. There is tremendous unmet need for high-quality early learning programs. Only 40 percent of eligible children have access to Head Start. Less than one-third of all four-year-olds are enrolled in State-funded preschool programs.

States and communities are looking for ways to expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities. Last year, 30 governors from both parties increased funding for preschool in their State budgets. Preschool Development Grants can help States and communities meet their goals and the needs of families and children.


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Additional Public Comment Sought for Preschool Development Grants Competition


Thank you to those who submitted comments on our February 6, 2014 Homeroom Blog regarding the $250 million for the new Preschool Development Grants competition, appropriated in the FY14 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (Public Law 113-76).

The Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) received 480 responses from the public. This input will be considered as we develop competition requirements, priorities, and selection criteria consistent with the language in the FY 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (Public Law 113-76).

The two departments are now seeking additional input through a dedicated website, as well as a public meeting to be held on Thursday, March 20, 2014 from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Additional information can be found below.

Public Meeting

When: Thursday, March 20, 2014 from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Where: U.S. Department of Education
Potomac Center
10th Floor Auditorium
550 12th Street SW
Washington, D.C.

You may also view the live streamed session at Thursday, March 20, 2014 from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning Libby Doggett (ED) and Deputy Assistant Secretary for and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development Linda K. Smith (HHS) will attend to listen to your ideas on the new competition. Please consider the questions listed below for the Homeroom Blog in preparing your remarks.

If you are interested in speaking during the meeting, you must register by sending an e-mail to: on Thursday, March 13, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET.
E-mails received outside of this time period will only be accepted as space allows. Requests for speaking will be honored on a first come, first serve basis. A confirmation will be sent two days prior to the meeting. For attendees not speaking, reservations are not required. Persons who are unable to attend the meeting in person or who do not register early enough to speak during the meeting are encouraged to submit written input on this blog.

For security purposes, all speakers and attendees are reminded to bring a photo ID and a business card. All attendees are requested to enter the Department on the C Street side of the building, go through the magnetometers, and show their photo ID to security. Instead of signing-in at the Front Desk, attendees will be directed to the auditorium’s rear doors, where they will be asked to submit a business card OR record their name, organization, and contact information on a sign-in sheet. Please allow ample time to go through security.

Your email must include the term “Preschool Development Grants Public Meeting” in the subject line of your e‐mail and indicate the following in the body of your cover email:

  1. Name(s) and title(s) of attendees from your organization (only one speaker per organization)
  2. Cell phone and e-mail for each attendee

The format for the Public Meeting will be as follows:

  • Speakers will be given 3 minutes to address the group. Time will be strictly enforced.
  • Speakers are encouraged to limit their comments to the Preschool Development Grants competition and may choose to address one or more of the questions listed below in the Homeroom Blog section.
  • In addition, all individuals and organizations are strongly encouraged to submit input in writing (electronic form preferred) by Friday, March 21, 2014, at 5:00 pm ETD.
  • Depending on the number of persons who wish to speak, we may not be able to accommodate everyone.

This is an important opportunity to provide input to the Departments. We hope you can join us.

Homeroom Blog

The dedicated website will be posted for public input until 5:00 PM ET on March 21, 2014. Please submit opinions, ideas, suggestions and comments pertaining to the new competition below. We are particularly interested in your input on these questions:

  • How should the competition address the direction in the Conference Report to the FY14 Consolidated Appropriations Act for awards to be made to two types of grantees: low-capacity States with small or no State-funded preschool programs and high-capacity States that have a larger State-funded preschool program?
  • How should subgrantees that are early learning providers demonstrate strong partnerships with local education agencies and how should local education agencies demonstrate strong partnerships with early learning providers?
  • How should States distribute funds within the State in order to scale-up of proven preschool models in local communities?
  • What factors should we consider, if any, in distinguishing State applicants based on their past commitment to early learning and/or participation in federal or state grant programs, e.g., success or lack of success in previous related grant competitions, current federal support for early learning, or past State investment in early learning)?
  • How can we use these grants to support a more streamlined system of high-quality programs and services for children across the birth through age five continuum?
  • What can we do to encourage the sustainability of services after the grant ends (e.g. encouraging or requiring nonfederal matching funds, maintenance of effort provisions, or supplement not supplant policies)?
  • What kind of absolute, competitive or invitational priorities should we consider in designing the competition?

The dedicated website will be open until 5:00 PM ET on March 21, 2014, at which time the input section will be closed and we will begin considering comments received as we develop requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions. Once the initial input from the field is collected and reviewed, we will draft an executive summary and post for comments that will, in turn, inform the final NIA. Thank you for your interest in this historic opportunity to support high-quality preschool. We look forward to hearing from you.

Source: Office of Early Learning, U.S. Department of Early Learning

The Top Ten List for Why the Expansion of High-Quality Early Learning is Inevitable

Remarks of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the National Governors Association Winter 2014 Meeting, February 23, 2013

(Note: Speaker abridged and deviated in spots from his prepared remarks)

Thank you, Governor Beshear. It’s great to be back at the NGA. And I welcome this opportunity to talk about the role of early learning with our governors. On both sides of the political aisle, it’s the governors who are really leading the nation in expanding high-quality early learning, from birth to age five.

10. There is much greater public awareness today of the importance of the early years to the long-term health, learning, and success of our children and our communities–and it is coupled with widespread public support for a big expansion of early learning.

9. A powerful, bipartisan coalition of governors are funding expansions in the states—in some cases, big expansions—of high-quality early learning programs.

8. There is a remarkably diverse and robust coalition of law enforcement officials, military leaders, clergy, CEOs, unions, parents, and others that strongly support expanding high-quality early learning opportunities.

7. The old arguments that states should have no role in providing low- and moderate-income families with voluntary access to early learning and child care have lost force.

6. There is a growing recognition that quality matters tremendously when it comes to early learning.

5. For the first time, a majority of the states are now assessing the school readiness of children when they enter kindergarten.

4. The enactment of third grade reading laws in many of your states is going to propel an expansion of high-quality early learning.

3. America is way behind high-performing countries in our provision of early learning–and there is a growing awareness that high-quality early learning is critical to sustaining our international economic competitiveness.

2. America is currently in the midst of an unprecedented wave of innovation and capacity-building when it comes to early learning–and a new federal-state partnership helped unleash this wave of innovation.

1. The enormous unmet need and demand for high-quality early learning.

Source: U.S. Department of Education

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HELP Chairman Tom Harkin Introduces the Strong Start for America’s Children Act Bill Summary

“Learning begins at birth, and the preparation for learning begins before birth. The investment we make as a nation in early learning will pay dividends for generations to come. Decades of research tell us that from infants and toddlers to preschoolers, early learning is the best investment we can make to prepare our children for a lifetime of success.”—HELP Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA)

The Strong Start for America’s Children Act builds on the framework put forward by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union Address and reflects Chairman Tom Harkin’s longstanding commitment to ensuring that learning begins at birth. This proposal would greatly increase access to and quality of programs that serve children from birth to kindergarten.

This bill consists of four measures that would:

  • Accelerate states’ efforts to provide high-quality preschool to low and moderate income families;
  • Increase the quality of infant and toddler care in center-based and family child care settings;
  • Support quality improvements in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG); and
  • Encourage continued support for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.


Preschool Formula Program: This would authorize a formula program to states for the purpose of providing universal, voluntary pre-kindergarten. States will distribute funds to local entities – which may include districts, schools, Head Start programs or licensed child care providers – that meet high-quality standards. Funds would be disbursed based on a state’s share of four-year olds living at or below 200% of the poverty line. States or local entities would first have to provide universal access to four-year olds before serving three-year olds.

States would have the ability to reserve up to 15% of the formula funds they receive to serve infants and toddlers through high-quality providers – if states chose to exercise this option they would have to ensure that infants and toddlers would enter into the state’s high-quality pre-kindergarten programs once they reached age three.

Preschool Development Grant Program: This would authorize competitive grants solely for states not receiving preschool formula grants. The purpose would be to increase capacity in states to position them for preschool formula grants and to improve states’ systems of early childhood. The Department of Education would make awards to help: 1) states with small state-funded preschool programs expand such programs; or 2) states without any state-funded preschool programs to establish them.

This would authorize $4 billion for Early Head Start-child care partnerships. Early Head Start providers, which serve infants and toddlers, would partner with local center-based and family child care to improve the quality of their infant and toddler care. These partnerships would be funded through the existing Early Head Start

Source: Administration for Children and Families

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Preschool for All Town Hall

Friday, July 19th, 2013 at 12:45 pm (MDT) in Denver and Live Via the Internet

Please join U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan (in person or live via the internet) for a town hall on the President’s Preschool for All initiative, hosted by Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia. The town hall will be held Friday, July 19th at 12:45 pm (MDT) in the Administration Building facing Martin Luther King Blvd. at the Clayton Early Learning Campus, 3801 Martin Luther King Blvd in Denver, CO.

President Obama has proposed an unprecedented, far-reaching investment in America’s youngest children.  This birth-to-five initiative includes  $75 billion over ten years, nationally, in federal-state partnerships to provide high-quality, preschool for all four-year-olds whose families are economically at (or below) 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The proposal also seeks to boost the quality and supply of federally subsidized child care for infants and toddlers, as well as expand a voluntary home visiting program to help parents create environments for their children to develop and learn.

The purpose of the town hall is to give local educators, parents, business leaders and other stakeholders in early learning a chance to hear directly from the Secretary and local leaders about this policy while it is still being formed and provide input.

For those not able to attend the Secretary’s Town Hall in person, the session will be broadcast in listen only mode via Adobe Connect at 12:45 pm MDT: .

Questions and comments in response to the Town Hall can be sent to U.S. Dept. of Education Rocky Mountain Communications

Please include your name, organization and contact information in your email.  

To test your computer access please click here.

Link to a description of the President’s plan and other resources:

Space is limited for the in-person event in Denver. Please RSVP to Contact  if you have any questions.

Infographic: We’re Getting Beat on Preschool


Both President Barack Obama and the Center for American Progress have proposed significantly expanding access to high-quality preschool. We know that early childhood education is essential to preparing a globally competitive workforce. But the evidence shows that the United States is far behind on preschool. To compete in the global economy, we need to do better.

Source: Center for American Progress

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Early Learning


Expanding access to high quality early childhood education is among the smartest investments that we can make. Research has shown that the early years in a child’s life—when the human brain is forming—represent a critically important window of opportunity to develop a child’s full potential and shape key academic, social, and cognitive skills that determine a child’s success in school and in life.

Participation in high-quality early learning programs—like Head Start, public and private pre-K, and childcare—will provide children from all backgrounds with a strong start and a foundation for school success. These programs also generate a significant return on investment for society; numerous economic studies have documented a rate of return of $7 or more on each dollar invested through a reduced need for spending on other services, such as remedial education, grade repetition, and special education, as well as increased productivity and earnings for these children as adults.

President Obama’s comprehensive early learning agenda invests in and strengthens early childhood education, care, and development for our nation’s youngest learners. It helps to prevent achievement gaps before they start, and invests from an early age in children as our most critical national resource.

Source: The White House

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The President’s Early Learning Proposal – YouTube


Early learning programs help kids start healthy, productive lives. Learn how the President’s early childhood plan would benefit children from birth to age 5.

Learn more at

Source: Office of Early Learning, US Department of Education

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Opening Remarks of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the Panel “The Obama Preschool Initiative” | U.S. Department of Education

May 29, 2013

My thanks to Ron Haskins, and the Brookings Institution, for hosting this discussion about President Obama’s landmark proposal for high-quality preschool.

And I’m happy to see Congresswoman Nancy Johnson, who’s been a longtime champion for children and a great thought-partner on the President’s proposal.

As you know, the President has proposed a groundbreaking plan for supporting and preparing our nation’s children from birth to age 5 in a seamless continuum.

For children ages zero to three, the President’s proposal includes a new Early Head Start-Child Care partnership at the Department of Health and Human Services to improve quality, and it expands the Administration’s home visiting initiative. Home visiting is showing great results.

As anyone who’s ever had to care for a new baby knows, you need all the help and advice you can get. And that is often especially the case for struggling single parents, first-time parents, and teen parents.

For four-year-olds, the President’s proposal would create a new federal-state partnership to enable states to provide voluntary, universal, high-quality preschool for children from low- and moderate-income families.

These are critical, long-term investments in early learning that our country needs. They are the best, most effective tool we have to close achievement and opportunity gaps.

Source: U.S. Department of Education

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