Governor Dannel P. Malloy and the Office of Early Childhood today released Connecticut's application for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, a federal grant opportunity to increase access to high-quality early learning experiences for young children with high needs.
"Increasing high-quality early childhood learning opportunities for every single child, irrespective of family income or geography, is a key part of improving education in Connecticut," said Governor Malloy. "Earlier this year, we took a major step toward this goal by creating the Office of Early Childhood, a new agency focused entirely on improving outcomes for young children. This federal grant would help to accelerate our progress along this important path."
Connecticut's application focuses on increasing access to high-quality early learning and development programs for children most in need.
"Being awarded a Race to the Top -- Early Learning Challenge grant would be a great opportunity for Connecticut," said Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, Executive Director of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood. "It would significantly advance the Office of Early Childhood's ability to accomplish our goal of increasing the number of vulnerable children who have access to high-quality early learning and development experiences in Connecticut; however, our unwavering commitment to provide high-quality and enriching early learning and development experiences for young children will continue regardless of the outcome of our grant proposal."
Connecticut's application outlined three major goals aligned to the work of the Office of Early Childhood that the funding would support. Specifically, it would enable Connecticut to enroll 9,500 high-need children in high-quality early learning and development programs. To further expand access to such programs, 500 programs would be identified for improvements that would result in a higher quality rating. The third objective articulated in the plan is to achieve a 5 percent decrease in the kindergarten readiness gap by 2017.
In total, sixteen states and the District of Columbia applied for $280 million competitive grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grant size varies depending on the proportion of children ages birth through five-years-old from low-income families residing in the state compared to the national population. Based on this formula, Connecticut would be eligible for an award of $37.5 million.
Award announcements will be made by December 31, 2013. Funding will begin immediately in January 2014.