Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Washington throws its hat in the ring for federal early learning grant

Washington state has submitted its application for a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant. The federal grant will provide $500 million in state-level competitive grants to improve early learning and development programs. The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is leading Washington’s application for the grant, which could bring up to $60 million to our state over four years to support early learning for our children.

RTT-ELC is meant to help states raise the quality of early learning programs so that children start school ready to succeed.
Governor Chris Gregoire said of Washington's application, “This application is bold and it is ambitious, but it is also achievable, and that is what the grant competition is all about. We have submitted a plan that will push our state forward in providing the kind of high-quality early learning opportunities our youngest learners need and deserve."

Washington's application lays out a plan for how to use the grant money:
  • Expand the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS), our state’s kindergarten readiness assessment, to include all incoming kindergarteners by school year 2014-15.
  • Take to scale our state’s quality rating and improvement system, which helps early learning programs improve the quality of care and education they provide to young children and provides information on quality to families.
  • Enhance the state professional development system by offering awards and incentives to those who work with and care for young children.
"This is an important opportunity to help Washington children," DEL Director Bette Hyde said. "Washington is uniquely positioned to move forward quickly if we win a grant because of the work we’ve already done with WaKIDS and QRIS."

DEL created a webpage to keep the early learning community informed about progress on RTT-ELC. That page includes fast facts about Washington's application.

The Associated Press ran a story about Washington's application, "State seeks $60M from feds for preschools."

Today, DEL representatives updated the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee about the RTT-ELC and other DEL news. That hearing will be available on TVW's website.

DEL will continue to tweet information about the application and related news using the hashtag #rttt (which stands for Race to the Top) at www.twitter.com/DEL_wa.