ED/HHS Announce Early Learning Challenge

May 25, 2011

It's official. Secretaries Duncan (Education) and Sebelius (Health and Human Services) announced today the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, a grant competition to support states' efforts to increase the quality of early childhood programs, and importantly increase the number of low-income and disadvantaged children, birth to five, in high-quality programs.

Funding for the Early Learning Challenge was included in the final FY 2011 Continuing Resolution (CR) Congress passed last month. Today, the Secretaries announced that $500 million of the $700 million earmarked for Race to the Top in 2011 will go to the Early Learning Challenge. Funds will be awarded to the winning states by December 31, 2011.

Details on the competition requirements and selection criteria have not yet been released. The CR describes the following requirements for states:

  • Increase the number and percentage of low-income and disadvantaged children in each age group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who are enrolled in high-quality early learning programs;
  • Design and implement an integrated system of high-quality early learning programs and services; and
  • Ensure that any use of assessments conforms with the recommendations of the National Research Council's reports on early childhood.

The Education and Health and Human Services Departments are soliciting feedback on the competition via their website. Look for more information to come as details of the grant program are revealed.  

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