The McKee Administration today announced that Rhode Island has been awarded a one-year, $4 million Preschool Development Birth Through Age Five Planning Grant (PDG B-5) from the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The funding will support planning and capacity-building activities across the early childhood sector to achieve the goals in Rhode Island’s 2030 Plan.
“The strength of our early childhood sector has direct impacts on our core goals to increase educational achievement to Massachusetts’ level by 2030 and to increase incomes across the state,” said Governor Dan McKee. “With this planning grant, we will be able to build on our momentum and ensure our state is in a strong position to implement best practices in the future.”
The new competitive grant funding follows Rhode Island’s previous success in securing Preschool Development Grant funding. In 2019, Rhode Island won a one-year, $4.2 million PDG B-5 Planning grant that led to the development of the state’s Early Childhood Care and Education Strategic Plan and several studies that guided future initiatives, such as the 2019 Statewide Early Learning Facilities Needs Assessment which informed the 2021 Early Childhood Care and Education Capital Fund bond initiative. In 2020, Rhode Island won a three-year, $27 million PDG B-5 Renewal grant, which has allowed the state to expand seats in RI Pre-K and in Parents as Teachers family home visiting. This new planning grant allows Rhode Island to conduct additional planning and pilot efforts.
“Early childhood is a vital developmental period for children that lays the foundation for future health and academic success, so it is important that we have strong systems and supports for families,” said Acting Secretary of EOHHS and Children’s Cabinet Chair Ana Novais. “With this funding, among other activities, we will be able to do enhanced strategic planning regarding early childhood mental health, early developmental supports, and infant and toddler infrastructure, areas we have heard from stakeholders need additional focus. This award demonstrates our state’s continued strength in collaboration and coordination across state agencies to center families and promote choice, voice, and access.”
“Learning starts at birth – as do the inequities in opportunities that impact a student’s future success in school and beyond,” said RIDE Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “With this funding, we look forward to reviewing how we can better support our multilingual learners, how we can improve transitions for children with disabilities, and how we can develop new service delivery models for RI Pre-K that allow more providers to participate in the program. While programs for young children are across many state agencies, we are committed to working together to make a seamless system for families that improves educational opportunity for all.”
“Early educators are the foundation of our early childhood system, yet child care programs locally and nationally continue to face challenges in retaining staff to keep classrooms open,” said Acting DHS Director Kimberly Merolla-Brito. “While our Pandemic Retention Bonus program and stabilization programs have been essential to addressing compensation in the near-term, ongoing strategies are needed. With this planning grant, we will have the opportunity to capture the current state of wages in the field as well as pilot an evidence-informed wage supplement program to evaluate effectiveness in retaining educators in the field.”
“Advancing health equity by addressing the social determinants of health is at the core of what we do at the Rhode Island Department of Health,” said RIDOH Acting Director Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. “We know that young children who have strong bonds with caring adults, access high-quality early education, and physical and mental health care are on a path to long-term health. This grant is an important opportunity for us to continue strengthening our systems to increase health equity for the betterment of our youngest Rhode Islanders.”
The 2023 PDG B-5 Planning Grant activities include the following:
Supports for early educators, including an early educator supplemental compensation pilot program and higher education articulation support to advance degree attainment
Focused strategic planning on early childhood multilingual learner supports and best practices, early childhood mental health, infant/toddler system, early childhood development supports, early educator compensation, and RI’s quality rating and improvement system
Family engagement and outreach, including for the RI Pre-K lottery in Spring 2023
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