“Baby Race to the Top” Application Released

August 23rd, 2011

Category: Early Childhood Education, News, Policy and Practice

Today the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released the Application for Initial Funding for the $500 million Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) Grant, of which Delaware is eligible for up to $50 million.  The Early Learning Challenge is organized around five selection criteria:

          A. Successful State Systems

          B. High-Quality, Accountable Programs

          C. Promoting Early Learning and Development Outcomes for Children

          D. A Great Early Childhood Workforce, and

          E. Measuring Outcomes and Progress (which is a new criterion added since the draft guidance was released; it is focused on data systems and kindergarten readiness).

(A)   and (B) require a response.  (C), (D) and (E) must be addressed, but applicants may choose which parts of the criteria within those sections they will respond to with specific proposals.  Other changes from the draft criteria include a greater emphasis across criteria on health promotion in preparing children to be successful as they enter kindergarten.

In anticipation of the release of the final criteria, Delaware has convened over one hundred Delaware stakeholders through the establishment of seven Early Childhood Action Teams (ECATs).  The ECAT teams met twice over July and August and have provided valuable insight into the state of early childhood initiatives in Delaware, identified best practices nationwide, thought carefully through gaps to best practice in Delaware and made recommendations for bold reform.

ECAT teams were helpful in identifying where Delaware’s key strengths lie and where concentrated attention may need given in order to prepare a highly competitive application.  The Governor’s recent investment of $22 million to support the Delaware Stars is an essential element in supporting Delaware’s competitiveness in the Early Learning Challenge, as are its rich data collection practices, strong licensing regulations and Early Learning Foundations, and committed workforce and community partners. 

In developing its application, Delaware will face challenges determining where resources should be allocated, as with any limited grant pool; however, in RTTT we were eligible for $75M and received $119M. Another challenge will be determining which strategies will target all children and which will be targeted to those with the greatest need. 

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Madeleine Bayard




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