Delaware Competes for Early Childhood Funds

July 29th, 2011

Category: Early Childhood Education

Since the announcement of the federal Early Learning Challenge, the third phase of the Race to the Top competition, states have been ‘racing’ to formulate bold applications for a share of the $500 million grant. Although the final criteria and deadlines have not been released, 36 states—including Delaware– and the District of Columbia have declared their intent to apply.

States will seek the support of private organizations to increase their chances of placing among the top applicants, as they did during Race to the Top. (Delaware engaged McKinsey & Co, as well as national policy experts on various topics.) The Early Learning Challenge Collaborative, a privately-funded collection of organizations and experts, will support all states in applying for and implementing Early Childhood RTTT grants.   A partnership of BUILD, the First Five Year Fund, and Birth to Five Policy Alliance, the Collaborative will work to encourage stakeholders and states to apply, help states develop innovative applications, and support states with promising plans whether they win grants or not. 

Delaware has already begun crafting its application, with participation from over one hundred Delaware stakeholders from the Department of Education, Kids’ Department, Health and Social Services Department, child care providers, non-profit organizations, foundations, parents and families, health care organizations, and others.  The state has established seven Early Childhood Action Teams (ECATs) that will meet twice over the next month to assess how Delaware stacks up against the federal government’s criteria and make recommendations for the plan to be included in the application. The teams are: (1) Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) (2) Workforce (Professional Development) (3) Early Learning Standards (4) Integrated Data System (5) Assessment (6) Family and Community Engagement, and (7) Physical and Emotional Wellness. We have engaged national experts and will continue to do so, but our engagement with national consulting firms or the Collaborative remains to be seen.

Delaware’s history of collaboration, as well as our previous work to develop the Early Childhood Advisory Grant application and the Policy Matters recommendations, will certainly serve us well as we compete to support the success of young children, especially those with the greatest needs.

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Madeleine Bayard



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